What's The Best Way To Start A Meeting?

best way start business meeting boardroom presentation

Meetings are important, but they’re also expensive because they pull employees away from their regular workflows. The only way to justify the cost is to utilize every meeting to its fullest extent, from start to finish. 

The first few minutes of your meeting set the tone for the rest of the session. You only get a short window of time in which to make a first impression. So, what’s the best way to start a meeting that encourages attendee engagement? Here are a few strategies to consider. 

Lead With Positivity 

It’s understandable leaders want to hit the ground running from the very start of a meeting. But too often, this translates to “whiplash” for the people in attendance. This way, the general tone of the meeting becomes one of disengagement as people let the seemingly endless updates wash over them. Even worse, sometimes meetings of this nature border on negative—people walk away feeling like they’ve been scolded or lectured. 

One way to open up the floor for genuine engagement is by leading with positivity. You could ask attendees to share one positive update from the past week or so. Or, you could jump-start the meeting with a genuine piece of praise for an individual, team, department or the company as a whole. 

Create Group Camaraderie 

Meetings come in many shapes and sizes. You may be moderating an all-hands meeting with 2,000 attendees. Or, you may be kicking off a weekly team meeting for 20. Participants might work together on a daily basis, or they may be near-complete strangers. 

One thing all these types of meetings have in common is the fact they can benefit from an early dose of camaraderie. People communicate best when they’re comfortable—whether or not people feel like part of the group affects how they interact with others and contribute to the discourse. 

However, it’s less than efficient to go around the room one by one, asking attendees to share something about themselves. Plus, this approach puts people on the spot. A better alternative is using a live audience response system like Poll Everywhere to collect and display everyone’s answers to fun icebreaker questions at once. Whether people are responding to an open-ended prompt or a multiple-choice quiz, they’re sure to get a kick out of everyone’s answers updating in real time. 

Outline Session Goals 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever left a meeting wondering why it even occurred. That’s the sentiment you want to avoid. So, try this breath of fresh air: State exactly why the meeting is happening and what participants should take from it.  

One leadership organization recommends stating it as plainly as, “The purpose of this meeting is X. When we are done, we will walk away with Y.” This straightforward approach to agenda- setting will help prime people’s expectations from the start. 

Pave The Way For Openness 

It’s a tale as old as time: People hold back their real thoughts and opinions during meetings, only to share them with close colleagues later. This is especially true if the thoughts are in any way contentious or sensitive. But when real issues fly under the radar, nothing gets improved. 

Depending on the nature of your meeting, bringing this up right away and encouraging people to “share their points of view candidly” may help people open up. Of course, this means the environment must be genuinely transparent and receptive, otherwise you’re just setting up attendees to fail. 

There’s no one “perfect” way to begin a meeting or presentation, but the best approaches help all attendees feel engaged, motivated, involved and informed from the get-go.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the best way to start a meeting for sales presentations or big pitches.

Interested in more articles about improving your business meetings?

Read Related Resources:

How To Improve Your Next Board Meeting 

Tips To Close Meetings And Presentations On A Strong Note

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