Because of the current health crisis, face-to-face and group meetings have been shelved out of necessity. The risk of contagion makes them inadvisable at the present.
However, with multiple types of vaccines on the way and already being implemented throughout the globe, it’s only a matter of time before lunch meetings return to the schedule of businesses everywhere.
When such time comes, you should be prepared to host them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Don’t be caught unprepared when the time for lunch meetings and appointments returns.
Here are some helpful tips on how you can re-learn the art of arranging delicious and effective lunch meetings.
Health Protocols Always
Despite the availability of vaccines, an ounce of prevention will always be worth more than a pound of cure.
When such time for a lunch meeting arrives, always follow any health protocols relevant to your area. Keep attendants to a minimum and always ascertain their movements beforehand in case contact tracing becomes a necessity.
Obey distancing measures as much as possible and make sure the restaurant or establishment you select keeps rigorous sanitation guidelines.
These measures are in place for a reason and obeying them is paramount to ensure the safety and well-being of all attendees.
Even before you determine if anyone in the meeting has dietary requirements, it’s always a good decision to go for a low-sugar menu or select meals that have low sugar contents.
For example, rather than soda, you should serve sparkling water infused with fruit. Instead of high-carb, high-sugar snacks like donuts, serve wheat biscuits with fruit compote.
Keeping the menu low on sugar is important to prevent your attendees from getting a sugar crash later on. Since meetings tend to go on for at least a couple of hours, you don’t want anyone getting drowsy from consuming too much sugar early on.
Determine Dietary Restrictions
When you sent out your email invitations, include a page dedicated to asking them about any of their dietary restrictions. Some people may avoid eating certain foodstuffs because they’re allergic to them.
Perhaps certain meals aren’t allowed by their religion. Or they’re following a specific diet out of health reasons or lifestyle choices. No matter what the reason is, it would be a grave faux pas and even insulting not to consider your attendant’s dietary needs beforehand.
Inform the restaurant or caterer about these requirements as soon as possible to prevent any mix-ups or lapses on the day of the lunch meeting.
Choose Fork Foods
As tempting as it is to host a business lunch at a pizza place, you don’t want to slow down the meeting because everyone’s busy wiping oil from their hands and putting away their Pizza Hut crusts.
Certain restaurants and meals are more suited for business meetings than others, specifically food that you can eat with a fork. Fork foods are less messy, making them ideal for formal meetings.
Salads, tiny servings, and similar meals mean your attendees won’t risk dribbling liquid on their documents or devices. It means they can have one hand free to take notes or type details.
Provide Writing Implements
Never forget that your lunch meeting will still be about business. If everyone shows up simply thinking they’re there for a free meal, they may not bring the necessary items to jot down notes, write contact information, and the like.
As a host, you should think ahead and provide writing implements to all attendees. Put them in a tasteful bag near each place setting or hand them to each attendee as they arrive so everyone can take notations at any time.
Unless you want to spend half a day and go over your budget, you must be able to wrap up a business lunch effectively.
At the start of the meeting, make sure to remind everyone of when your meeting is supposed to end. This may not be such an issue in a rented venue, but you still need to assert yourself often, especially if the participants tend to get off-topic.
Thirty minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting, tell everyone to begin concluding their presentations or discussions. If there are still crucial points to be discussed, endeavor to set up a follow-up meeting as soon as you can.
Always Have Back-Ups
Finally, you should always have a back-up plan in case your first arrange meeting or venue falls through. This back-up plan may be a second restaurant or venue, but it could be that your whole meeting has to be canceled.
In that event, prepare for a follow-up email and if needed, a digital meeting. This allows you to still conduct the meeting and get some work done.
Lunch meetings aren’t a thing of the past. They will return in due time. Until then, honing your skills and knowledge on how to make them more efficient will come in useful when the restaurants open and you have to negotiate with hungry clients.