Everyone knows it’s important to be well-prepared for business meetings. Participants are expected to familiarize themselves with issues on the agenda so they can take part in discussions. However, in order to be fully prepared, there are things you should never forget to bring along with you.
You won’t find a list of these meeting essentials in a handbook. They may not even seem to be important until you actually need them, but none of these items should be overlooked. They’re mandatory equipment if you want to make a good impression on colleagues, a boss or potential business partner. What follows is a list of eight things you should never leave behind when attending meetings.
A notebook and pens
You may pride yourself on having a great memory, but writing down the important things that transpire during meetings will give you a handy way to refer back to them later. Even if a meeting is recorded, it’s often more faster to flip through a notebook to find the data you’re looking for than to listen to a playback. Along with a notebook, you should bring at least two pens. You’ll need more than one because you can never be sure when a pen will run out of ink. If you have to borrow one from someone else, you will look unprepared.
Copies of your presentation
If you’re planning to present a report, be sure to bring along enough copies for everyone. That way the other participants will be able to follow along as you speak. If you’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation, consider making printouts of the key slides. Participants will gain a better understanding of what you have to say if you give them a visual aid. They’ll also appreciate it if they don’t need to take lengthy notes.
It may sound old-fashioned in the digital age, but passing out business cards remains a great way to introduce yourself at meetings. It ensures that your contacts will have a way to reach you afterward. They won’t have to look up your phone number. If you include your personal mobile phone number along with your office number and your email address, you’ll be sending a message that you’re available and eager to communicate.
A laptop and a smartphone
Rather than carrying an armload of paperwork, you can load all of the backup material you may need for your presentation into a laptop. If someone has a question you can’t answer off the top of your head, you can consult your document files or conduct a quick search for information online. If you bring a smartphone, you’ll be prepared when someone wants to send or receive information by text.
Bringing water to meetings is important, in case your throat goes dry in the middle of a presentation. Most meetings provide water for attendees. If you’re the host, make sure there is plenty for everyone. However, if you are meeting on unfamiliar turf, don’t take a chance. Bring your own bottle of water, just in case. It’s better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.
If you rarely are afflicted by coughs, you may be tempted to leave cough drops behind. However, there are few things worse than trying to make yourself understood while struggling not to cough. Watching someone attempt to speak while they cough is almost as painful. Cough drops come in small packets that are easy to carry. So choose your favorite flavor and bring some with you.
It’s important to shake hands with the people you meet at business meetings, but beware of the germs you may catch with a handshake, especially during cold-and-flu season. To make sure you stay healthy, bring along a small container of hand sanitizer. Just make sure you wait until the meeting is over to clean your hands. Otherwise you just might offend your colleagues.
It’s always a good idea to bring some tissues with you to a meeting. If you have a minor spill, they’re handy for quickly cleaning up the mess without having to leave the room to search for paper towels. If you should need to cough or sneeze, it’s much less awkward if you use a tissue. If another meeting attendee should have a need for a tissue, you can make a good impression by coming to the rescue.
What would you add to this list of must-haves for a professional meeting? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.