Five Ways To Keep Important Business Meetings More Focused

Are you in charge of planning your next big corporate meeting? Need ways to entice -- and then keep -- participants interested? Studies show a relationship between the amount of meetings that employees have to attend and their happiness in their jobs. So if you need to make sure people are more eager to come to a special corporate event, try these tips for running a less-than-dull meeting.

1. Change the setting.

Anything that takes employees out of the humdrum day at the office can spark more interest. Depending on the number of people attending the meeting, you may decide to rent a conference room at a nearby hotel or resort.

One way to really get away is to hire a corporate charter boat from a company like Captain Memo's Original Pirate Cruise that will pick up employees and take them around for a couple hours or all day. Food can be catered or may be provided by the charter company, so you don't have to worry about anything during the meeting or event. An added plus: participants can't easily leave during the meeting, so you won't have disruptions of people going in and out throughout the day. Private charters may also be cost effective when you consider the number of people attending the event.

2. Have a clear purpose.

Don't just have a meeting because you always have a sales meeting in June, for example. Make sure there is a reason for everyone to gather. Sometimes this can take the form of a very clear agenda, distributed to participants a few days ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.

You'll also want to make sure people understand the mission and the overall goals for the company of having a meeting and good results from the meeting. This will lead to increased productivity during and after the event.

3. Bring in an impartial guide.

Don't just have the CEO or sales manager step to the front of the group and drone on and on. Hire an outside mediator or meeting manager to keep everything on track and make the group stick to both a schedule and an agenda. This person is sort of like a ringmaster or an emcee, and should be skilled enough to stop others from derailing important conversations or training sessions.

4. Plan time to be creative or brainstorm.

Especially for a longer meeting, you can't just expect people to stay tuned in for hours. Make an agenda that includes regular interruptions so that people can better stay focused.

One way to do this is to schedule a two-minute break for every half hour of discussion. This can take some sort of physical or creative change, such as stretching, talking to others about something that's not business related, or doing a short creative activity.

It can also be effective to take regular silence breaks after a particularly important or controversial topic. That allows people to collect their thoughts and get more comfortable with whatever was discussed.

5. Have good eats.

It's true: people think with their stomachs. Have good coffee, snacks and meals at your long events so people are happy.

It works better to keep meals smaller and fill in with regular snacks. That way no one comes back from lunch bloated and sick. Also avoid sugary foods and simple carbs that can give people quick sugar highs and then let them crash.

Following these ideas should make your next corporate meeting a much more productive and effective event.