The Purpose of Business Meetings

The current situation and investigation of the GSA’s Las Vegas event has many people up in arms about the investment that companies, associations, and governmental agencies make on hosting business meetings. People who question the purpose and power of business meetings are rattling the cage and making noise just as they did after “Muffin-Gate” in 2011 (the over hyped and twisted story that a DOJ paid $16 per muffin at a meeting coffee break). But there is more to meetings than the costs to produce a meaningful conference.

While it can sound expensive, the realities of hosting events do cost money. Hotels, meals, transportation, professional speakers, entertainment, and other necessary items have associated bills. But when a meeting becomes a “happening” there is value created. Looking at pieces of the puzzle separately can cause some to misinterpret the real power that happens when people gather together. Throughout history man has collected in groups to share the best ideas, learn, grow, entertain, have fun, and get inspired for the future.

Of course there are those who abuse the system, make poor spending decisions, and waste money. I am not condoning bad behavior. Meetings are not something you just “do”… as you need trained professionals to help you organize or you will fall prey to all sorts of mistakes. Too many jump in thinking “how hard can it be?” and wing-it in their planning. A conference has so many parts that you should never expect the right results without the proper planning and experience.

Some people think that the meetings industry is dead. I spoke to one person recently who said she never goes to business meetings, and thus was convinced that conferences were dying. NOT TRUE. Many business meetings are growing and new conferences spring up daily around the world. The meetings industry is a multi-billion dollar business that employs over 1.7 million people in the United States.

The problem with all the discussion about meetings is there is not a clear understanding of the purpose of business gatherings. If you talk to different people you will get different answers. Some think meetings exits to educate. Others to entertain. Networking opportunities are regularly cited as a reason to attend. There are those that believe meetings a perk, while just as many view them as an obligation. Associations can acquire much of their income from conferences and at the same time other companies and agencies have them as expenses.

Every meeting that is planned can have different purposes (even meetings that are put on by the same organization).

Since there is not a single purpose for business meetings there will always be controversy as people tend to only look at things the way they want to see them. Those who want to see meetings as expensive can make that argument, but if you have ever been to a conference where you made a connection that changed the direction of your career, or learned something that inspired you to achieve more… then you know why there will always be business meetings.

All opportunities come from people, and bringing groups together is a way to create more opportunities.

I believe meetings exist for many of reasons, but too often even the organizers cannot tell you the clear purpose. Working to appeal to a variety of people can leave an event too vanilla to become spectacular to anyone. If you cannot clearly articulate the reason to host the meeting, why can you expect attendees to understand the purpose?

Knowing the answer to “why” will make the event better for everyone!

What was the last meeting you attended and why was it great? (or why was it blah?).

Business Meetings Online – Catch the Wave of the Future

Are you new to business meetings online? If so, you need to get with the program! Holding business meetings online is becoming an accepted, even encouraged, practice in today’s enterprise. Hosting or attending business meetings online is an essential component of business communications.

Today’s online meetings are collaborative affairs. You can share applications and documents, send messages, and even work on the whiteboard. Online meetings are definitely revolutionizing the way people interact. No longer just a business tool, you’ll find religious groups, addiction support groups, and civic groups meeting online.

Several web sites have emerged that allow participants of online business meetings to exchange graphic files and images while eliminating the need for a video cam or web cam. An added bonus is there is no need for you and/or your meeting partners to download cumbersome software before the meeting.

Business meetings online, used appropriately, can save small business owners, and their clients, time and money. Note that I’m not advocating using an online meeting to cold-call or prospect with. First time meetings with potential clients are probably still best held face-to-face. But a follow-up meeting to answer questions? Definitely think about doing it online. Where a phone conference is a “tell” method of selling, the online meeting takes it to the “show-and-tell “method.

Other solid benefits of online business meetings are reduced expenses, higher productivity and increased time. These are mainly accomplished by eliminating travel time and expense. Rather than have the meeting attendees gather in one physical location, the World Wide Web is used to create a virtual meeting place that can be accessed with the proper login credentials.

Online meetings are a secure way to interact with your clients, business partners and team members. This makes them ideal for sales pitches, performance reporting or providing training for other members of your organization. Online meetings make audio communication possible by using VoIP (voice over IP) applications.

Online meetings are idea for organizing small impromptu meetings of fewer than 8 participants. This particularly benefits small businesses where interactions tend to be spur-of-the-moment and include fewer participants than in larger companies.

Online Business Meetings – Using Technology to Cut Business Travel Costs

If you have a small business, you obviously envision it becoming a big and well established enterprise. As the business grows beyond city, country and continental borders, communication modes need to be upgraded. This is why as you nurture your business you have to think of the best way to cut traveling costs while maintaining a high level of productivity during business meetings.

In conventional business setting, designated employees would ideally travel across the world to make business deals or to attend conferences that would market the business. These business trips entail booking a hotel for accommodation, booking a meeting room, having transport arrangements to various meeting points, setting aside traveling allowances as well as organizing for meals for the traveling persons. We all agree that employees are bound to make fraudulent claims after a trip.

Some people misuse these business trips and turn them into their personal expeditions at the expense of their companies. Other employees turn the trips into a shopping spree. Monitoring the steps of your employees while they are away requires a lot of time and money thus many organizations would not think of spending funds to check on their employees whom they have sent away on business.

The best way to curb problems arising from traveling far to have meetings is to invest in a good online meeting room, with a powerful computer which can transmit multimedia. Have a web-cam, headsets if needed and install necessary software to support communication as the meeting goes on. It is also important to have a standby generator that ensures the meeting is not affected by power blackouts. With technology, you can link to your customers, suppliers and business partners at the comfort of your office.

In the long run, if you compare the money used to set up an online business meeting and that used to send staff to a physical meeting point, you will definitely settle for online meetings.

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