The Conference Venues Team

Rudi is the webmaster and blog author for Conference Venues South Africa, a free and impartial venue-finding agency helping you find the right venue according to your specific requirements for stress free conferencing, business meetings, team building events, workshops, functions or product launches.

Jun 132019
 

Dealing with Disruptions in a Meeting

Disruptions in the meeting are bound to happen. Personal technology keeps participants constantly connected to the outside world. Frequent disruptions could impede the effectiveness of your meeting and become distracting to those who are focused on the meeting. Furthermore, poorly managing disruptions will reflect on the chairperson or meeting organizer. The key to mitigating disruptions is to plan for them and setting expectations.

In this module, you will learn how to deal with participants constantly running in and out of your meeting, cell phones, off topic discussions and conflicts. The goal is to reduce the affect. It is very difficult to avoid these distractions. It is human nature. Let us begin the module with a lesson on how to deal with participants constantly leaving the meeting.

Running in and Out

Constant disruptions caused by attendees running in and out of your meeting will affect the experience for the other attendees. We often take it for granted that attendees will stay in the meeting and not leave. Therefore, we do not discuss this issue very often at the beginning of the meetings. Addressing this form of distraction is best done proactively. Using the SIT technique helps your set the expectation regarding running in and out of the meeting. Next, incorporating frequent breaks lessens the changes of participants leaving the room, and finally giving timely feedback to those who break the rule is necessary in order to stop frequent violators. Let us review each step in more detail.

Set expectations: tell your participants at the beginning of the meeting what you expect of them when it comes to staying in the meeting room. Tell them the effects of constantly running in and out of the meeting on the presenter and other participants. Let all the participants know that if they need to leave the room to do so only if it is an emergency and if it is a severe problem, that they should leave the meeting. They will be more of a distraction if they stay.

Incorporate frequent breaks: at the beginning of your meeting, tell the participants they will get a five-minute break every hour the meeting lasts. Establishing this up front let the participants know when to expect a break and wait until then to call people back, etc.

Timely feedback given to those who break the rules: when you have a person still running in and out of your meeting, it is best to address that with them as soon as possible. If you have a problem participant, quietly leave the room and wait for them outside. Speak with the participant in a respectful manner and tell them that their behavior is disrupting the meeting. Ask if they are experiencing an emergency and if they need to leave. If they are not in an emergency, tell the participant if they could wait until the scheduled breaks to do what they have to do.

Cell Phone and PDA Ringing

Most people know to silent their cell phones and PDA’s when entering a meeting. However, they may forget every so often. Your job as the meeting manger is to remind them. Here are a couple of steps you can take to remind your participants to turn off those phones.

Place signs in the room instructing participants to silence their cell phone and PDA’s. They can be humorous and light-hearted. In any case, you will get your message across.

Make an announcement at the beginning of the meeting instructing the participants to turn off their cell phone or PDA now. The signs are a back-up in case you forget to do this.

Since the participants will most likely looking at the agenda, place a reminder there too. This way you have several areas where the participants can get the message.

One cell phone or PDA going off in the middle of the meeting could lead to a disruption that could last a couple of minutes. You can reduce this type of disruption by almost 100 percent by just mentioning it at the beginning of the meeting and providing reminder signs.

Off on a Tangent

This is by far the most difficult to manage in a meeting. The biggest challenge is to redirect without offending the participants. Using the EAR technique helps to do this in three simple steps.

Engage the conversation by becoming contributor for a moment. The goal is not to carry the conversation, but to gain some control by getting the meeting floor. Once engaged you are able to go to the next step.

Acknowledge that the topic is valid and worthy of discussion. This should be a short and affirming statement. This avoids embarrassment of those who carried the conversation when it is time to redirect.

Redirect the participants back to the conversation. This brief statement ends the last discussion and starts up the previous one that was on topic.

Here is a sample EAR script:

Participant on a tangent: I think pizza for breakfast is the best! There is now doubt about it.

Meeting manager: I am willing to try pizza for breakfast. It can’t be that bad.

Meeting manager: Perhaps you represent a large number of pizza lovers that enjoy the same thing you do. I won’t knock it until I try it.

Meeting manager: Now, let’s get back to the problem of employee morale in the call center. Who has some ideas they can share?

Granted the topic was embellished, but this last script demonstrated the steps clearly. Using EAR will help you master the meeting room every time the conversation goes astray.

Personality Conflict

Sometimes a meeting could result in conflict. This may be true of meetings where new teams are storming together and forming the team. Conflict could arise when two participants with opposing views clash. In any case, conflict in a meeting has to be managed. There is an acceptable degree of tension, which is normal in debates. However, when the tension turns in to outright conflict, the focus turns from the meeting to the spectacle that is the conflict. Your job as a meeting manager is to diffuse the conflict and restore order in the meeting. Allowing conflict to go unchecked could fester into a bigger problem for everyone in the meeting. The news of the conflict will spread quickly and how you managed, it will be scrutinized. Here are three steps to take when conflict arises.

  1. Stop: Stop the conflict by intervening and making a statement that acknowledges the conflict. Do not become frustrated yourself. Avoid taking sides. Never yell. Be professional and calm. Simply state that the discussion has turned personal and that it needs to stop.
  2. Drop: instruct the parties in conflict to drop the discussion for now and regain their composure. There is no need to carry on if the discussion is counterproductive.
  3. Roll: roll into a break. Even if you just got back from one, take a break and send the participants away for a moment. Call on the parties in conflict and hold a brief expectations meeting. You are not there to resolve personal conflict. However, you must manage the conflict because it is your meeting. Tell the persons in conflict that they must immediately stop the behavior. Restate the need for the meeting and that healthy debate is always welcomed. Have them agree to behave for the remainder of the meeting.

The meeting room is no place to try to resolve the deeper issues of the conflict. On the other hand, if the participants are all a part of a team that will meet regularly, then this issue has to be addressed in a coaching session and not in front of spectators.

 

Jun 062019
 

Keeping the Meeting on Track

In this post, you will learn techniques on how to keep your meeting on track, deal with overtime and holding participants accountable. Doing all this requires focus and a sense of doing what is right for the sake of all your attendees. Neglecting this could affect the meeting experience for many who will sit there and silently criticize your meeting management skills. Worse yet, they may get up and walk out, because they feel they are wasting their time. Let us begin by learning how to keep the meeting on track.

Keeping the Meeting on Track

In order to keep your meeting on track, you should set clear expectations on how time management will be used in the meeting. Setting expectations up front avoids surprised and indignation from the presenter, because they are not caught off guard. In addition, as a chairperson, you must feel comfortable interrupting the presenter when necessary. Many times the presenter would like to be told their time is up. This way they do not have to worry about time. The STOP technique helps to keep your meeting on track by doing the following:

Set expectations: letting your presenters and attendees know you intend on managing the agenda vigorously removes the element of surprise. When you neglect to set time management expectations, you are subject to an array of reactions from the presenter and attendees. It may be taken as rude behavior. It does not have to be that way. Let the presenter know that you will give them a signal at five and two minutes remaining. In addition, set expectations for questions and answers. Telling attendees to write their questions down to be asked at the end of the presentation avoids unnecessary interruptions, potentially side tracking the conversation.

Time the presenter: using a timer is the best way to manage the time of your meeting. Keep to the allotted time for both the presentation and the question and answer activity. Always provide a warning time so the presenter does not have to stop abruptly.

Overcome fear of interrupting: perhaps you do not have a problem with this, but there are many who see interrupting someone as rude and find it difficult to do. The best way to overcome this is by setting those expectations upfront. This way you know the presenter is expecting an interruption. The same holds true for questions being asked. If left unchecked, you could lose a lot of time by allowing excessive questions. Use your parking lot to hold questions that require more thought in answering. Call time on questions and answers so you can move to the next topic.

Politely warn people time is nearing: avoid being harsh and rigid. Treating others with respect is the best way to keep the meeting moving and with plenty of participation. You do not want them to shut down because you are becoming a tyrant.

Dealing with Overtime

Going into overtime presents several problems. Once the meeting extends beyond its original end time, you will begin to lose the attendees’ attention. This is particularly obvious in large meetings. No matter what size meeting you are dealing with, the goal to dealing with overtime is to acknowledge it before it happens. Look at the agenda and determine if you will need to go over. If you do, then do the following to mitigate the effects of going into overtime:

Determine your constraints

    • Is the room or venue available for overtime
    • Do attendees have to travel and cannot stay
  • Warn attendees in advance that the meeting will over run
  • Determine how much more time will be needed
  • Communicate the extra time to the attendees
  • In a small meeting, gain consensus to go into overtime
  • Give choices
    • In a large meeting, provide a brief break at the normal end time so those who have to leave will do so during the break and not the meeting
    • In a small meeting, allow those who need to leave to do so
  • If overtime is not an option, determine what agenda items will be missed and plan an alternative way of getting the information to the attendees
    • Follow up email
    • Topic saved for next meeting

If you do not manage overtime, then you will see frustration build among the attendees. Have a plan in place so you know what to do once you determine if your meeting is going to run longer than expected.

Holding Participants Accountable

In a meeting, it may be difficult to hold participants accountable. Participation, questioning, and preparedness could easily be overlooked. Holding your participants accountable involves communication.

Here are three basic steps you can take to holding your participants accountable:

  1. Set your expectations: in advance, perhaps in your invitation you should outline what you expect from the participants in this meeting. You may need them to bring questions, or help by providing information. You may want them to participate with vigor. In any case, you must outline what you expect of them before you can hold them to a standard or expectation.
  2. Clarify the consequences: let the participants know how you plan to hold them accountable. Perhaps you can warn that you will be calling on everyone for answers. You may also leverage their manager if applicable. You may say that you will be sending the meeting minutes to their supervisors where they can see if they participated or not.
  3. Follow through: if you said you would do something, then you have to do it. Do not get into the habit of making empty threats. People will respect you and will naturally be accountable to you because of your work ethic.

Most participants do not want to be on the “bad” side. They want to contribute. Your ability to assert yourself and communicate with clarity your expectations, consequences and determination will make this an easy process with practice.

May 302019
 

Chairing the meeting is a leadership role. You must be ready and able to stand up and kick off the meeting without sounding nervous or uncomfortable. Your ability to communicate early in the meeting sets the tone of the meeting. Chairing a meeting effectively takes time to develop and requires practice.

Getting Off on the Right Foot

Opening your meeting effectively requires both a technique and a flow. The SIGNALS flow gives you an easy model to follow when opening the meeting. Here is a breakdown of the acronym:

Salutation is opening the meeting by welcoming and greeting your participants

Introduction is where you introduce who you are

Guest mentioned is where you introduce those attendees that are special guests

Need-to-know is a list of things like logistics, bathroom location, fire exits, general meeting format that is shared with the attendees

Agenda is where you discuss the purpose of the meeting and give a brief overview of the agenda

“Laws of the meeting” is where you discuss how the meeting is going to run. This includes policies on electronic devices, participation, and handling conflict.

Segue is the part of your introduction that links this part to the next topic, which in this case will be the role of the agenda.

Practicing your opening is the best way to become better at it. Over time, you will develop your own style, which will be comfortable to you. In any case, you will need to do it in order for you to learn it.

The Role of the Agenda

The agenda is an entity that plays a vital role like the chairperson or minute taker. Is should not be ignored, because if it is ignored, your meeting will experience time and participant management problems. Many times meetings run over or are cut short leaving topics unaddressed that were on the agenda. Consistently missing the agenda time and topics is a sign of poor meeting management. Here is a list of items the agenda accomplishes when handled as a role at the beginning of the meeting:

  • The agenda communicates:
    • Meeting topics
    • Presenters
    • Time allotment for each speaker
  • The agenda provides focus by:
    • Stating the meeting objectives clearly
    • Outlining the meeting in increments of time
    • Providing a checklist of things to accomplish in the meeting
    • Allowing the attendees to see both the beginning and the end of the meeting, avoiding them becoming distracted when they are left wondering when this meeting end will

Here is a sample introduction of how to introduce the agenda as a role at the beginning of the meeting:

“The agenda today will help us meet today’s goal of deriving a good sales strategy. We have four presenters who are going to discuss how to present the new product, handle objections, gain commitment, and close the sale. The agenda will be our guide so we can stay on track and finish on time.”

Simply handing out the agenda does not communicate its role. You must introduce it like any other person that has a role in the meeting.

Using a Parking Lot

Using a parking lot in your meetings provides a place where topics that cannot be answered during the meeting are noted for follow up later. Sometimes the topics in the parking lot may be answered during the course of the meeting, but this is unusual. The parking lot is simple to implement. You could create a physical place by using piece of flip chart paper with sticky notes. Perhaps you prefer electronic documentation. You can collect parking lot topics onto a spreadsheet. Whatever you choose, you need to have a basic format. Here are some things to consider:

  • Take a few moments to share with the attendees how the parking lot works
    • Meant for topics that require follow up after the meeting
    • Hold questions that can be answered later in the meeting
  • Provide brief instruction on how to register a parking lot issue
    • Provide the question or topic, name, and contact information, on a sticky note or verbally to the minute taker
    • Chairperson will review parking lot topics to determine if the topic requires follow up after the meeting.
    • Follow up communication will be sent to all the members of the meeting

The parking lot is helpful in managing your time. It gives you the ability to move off a topic that requires more research and time to develop. Remember to check the parking lot at the end of the meeting and always be sure to follow up when you say you will.

May 232019
 

Establishing Roles and Responsibilities for Your Meeting

Establishing clear roles and responsibilities in your meeting helps to manage the meeting effectively. When roles are established, the participants have a clear understanding of what is taking place because the person in a specific role has a job to fulfill. Assigning roles also alleviates the task you have to manage. This way you can focus on the role you are to manage within the meeting time. Remember that you do not have to do it all. Get others involved.

In this module, you will learn the role of the Chairperson, Minute Taker, and the Attendees. Finally, you will learn how to vary the roles for large and small meetings. Let us begin first by identifying the role of the Chairperson.

The Chairperson

The meeting chairperson is responsible for directing the proceedings of the meeting. They are time managers, referees, and enforcer of the rules when they are broken. The chairperson does not necessarily have to be you all the time, but when you do defer the chairperson’s duty to someone other than you, make sure you are confident the chairperson you choose can handle the role. The chairperson must be able to lead the meeting and be firm throughout the meeting.

Here are additional responsibilities of the chairperson:

  • Be aware of the rules of the meeting if present
  • Keep to the aim or objective of the meeting
  • Remain fair with all participants
  • Start the meeting
  • Transition from agenda topic to the next
  • Introduce the next presenter
  • Handle disruptions

Some of the qualities a chairperson should possess are as follows:

  • They should have some level of authority
  • Demonstrate flexibility
  • Remain impartial
  • Display maturity

The role of the chairperson is essential if the meeting is to have some form of control. If you are the chairperson, make sure you do not take on additional roles. You want to remain focus on the tasks associated with the role of the chairperson. If you select another person to be the chairperson, it is a good practice to meet with him or her in advance of the meeting to coordinate the agenda and set expectations. You want to avoid miscommunication during the meeting, which could hurt the credibility of both your chairperson and yourself.

The Minute Taker

Taking minutes requires some basic skills. For instance, a good minute taker will possess great listening skills, and attention to detail. Furthermore, they should have excellent writing skills and communication skills. The person you select must be able to maintain focus and not be carried away with the meeting, missing crucial meeting information. It is best to select someone who is not directly involved in the meeting, allowing them not to participate. Here is a list of tasks the minute taker should handle:

  • Before the meeting
    • Determine what tool to use for recording the minutes (ex. Laptop, paper, recording)
    • Become familiar with the names of the attendees and who they are
    • Obtain the agenda and become familiar with the topics
  • During the meeting
    • Take attendance
    • Note the time the meeting begins
    • Write the main ideas presented in the meeting and the contributor of that information
    • Write down decisions made and who supported and opposed the decision
    • Note follow up items
    • Note items to be discussed in the next meeting
    • Note the end time of the meeting
  • After the meeting
    • Type up the minutes immediately after the meeting (if manual notes or recordings were taken)
    • Proofread the minutes and correct any errors in grammar and spelling
    • Save or send the document to the meeting owner

Using a template helps to keep the minute taking consistent. Remember to meet with the person you choose to be your minute taker before the meeting to go over the template.

The Attendees

The attendees are not excluded from assuming a role or having a responsibility in the meeting setting. Of course, you cannot force the responsibility on to your attendees, but you can attempt to influence them. The attendees are the biggest success factor of your meeting. If they feel that they accomplished something in the meeting, they will applaud you. However, if they walk away feeling they wasted their time, this could affect your credibility. The following are responsibilities your attendees could assume:

  • Prepare
    • Be prepared to contribute to the meeting
    • Be prepared to arrive early and avoid being late
    • Be prepared for the meeting by jotting down ideas and questions ahead of meeting
    • Be prepared by reading the agenda before the meeting
    • Be prepared for a long meeting by getting enough rest the night before
  • Participate
    • Ask questions
    • Take notes
    • Share ideas
  • Productive
    • Avoid carrying side conversations
    • Remove distractions like cell phones and PDA’s
    • Keep to the allotted time if on the agenda

Setting up expectations is the best way to communicate the role of the attendees. This is accomplished in either the meeting invitation, or separate email to the attendees. In any case, it is worth the time. Remember that all participants play a vital role in the meeting. Your job is to remind them of their role and the responsibility that comes with that role.

Jan 292019
 

Conference Venues SA welcomes Madidaba Game Lodge Conference Venue as one of the newest  featured conference venues in CullinanPretoria, Gauteng

The lodge provides the ideal environment for hosting a successful meeting, function or conference.

From first to last, dedicated and professional staff, trained to anticipate your needs, are on hand to ensure the success of your event.

All-inclusive packages can be tailored to suit your conference or function, including AV equipment, refreshment breaks and accommodation. We also have a licensed bar & lounge areas for drinks afterwards

Eland is ideal for large conferences, product launches or presentations for up to 300 delegates. For smaller groups, Koedoe holds from 40 to 150 and Duiker holds from 2 up to 40 guests.

Our venues are also ideal for films shoots, product launches, annual functions and special events.

Make a Booking or Enquiry at this Conference Venue
Sep 062018
 

Conference Venues SA welcomes Filos Conference Venue as one of the newest  featured conference venues in BrooklynPretoria, Gauteng

Filos has a restaurant on site and available for your convenience which is fully equipped to meet all your delegates’ needs. They provide complete conference packages, half day and full day, which can be tailored to suit your specific needs including, AV equipment and catering. Two halls on the premises. Kikos hall can seat up to 150 people which is ideal for a medium sized conference, product launch or presentation. For larger groups our Main hall can seat up to 450 people. They are flexible enough to cater for your conferences from as few as 20 guests to as many as 450 attendees in cinema or banquet style.

Make a Booking or Enquiry at this Conference Venue

Aug 132018
 

ACN International Regency Lodge

Conference Venues SA welcomes ACN International Regency Lodge Conference Venue as one of the newest conference venues in Kempton Park, Gauteng

ACN International Regency Lodge is a fully certified urban bed and breakfast lodge. Ideally located in the authentic heart of Gauteng Province, on the corner facing Venter and Bosch Streets, ACN International Regency Lodge is only a few minutes’ drive away from OR Tambo International Airport, tourist places such as Festival Mall, Emperors Palace, Mandela Square, museums. The lodge is ideally located for business, leisure travelers and students passing through Johannesburg, on a short and long stay.

Make a Booking or Enquiry at this Conference Venue

Aug 072018
 

In 2 Africa Conference Venue

Conference Venues SA welcomes In 2 Africa Conference Venue as one of the newest conference venues in Kempton Park, Gauteng

IN2 Executive Boardroom, seating up to 25 delegates with a separate lounge and large patio area.

IN2 RES Conference Room, seating up to 45 delegates in a U-Shape or Schoolroom seating.

iN2 the Lapa – Outdoor thatch conference / function room seating up to 100 delegates in Schoolroom style and 150 guests for a formal function.

Catering, Venue, Flip Chart and Pens, White Screen, Sound System, White Board, Limited Wi-Fi, Water and Mints

Make a Booking or Enquiry at this Conference Venue

Aug 062018
 

Dersley Manor Conference Venue Bloemfontein

Conference Venues SA welcomes Dersley Manor Conference Venue as one of the newest conference venues in Bloemfontein, Free State

The modern state of the art conference facility is equipped to handle up to 60 delegates. Equipped with HD projector, white board, flipchart and sound system.Venue is fully air-conditioned with free uncapped WiFi. Secure on-site parking, surrounded by lush gardens in a peaceful and quite setting.

 

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Jun 212018
 

Conference Venues Witbank

Conference Venues SA welcomes Rafiki Conference Venue as one of the newest conference venues in Witbank, Emalahleni, Mpumalanga

Rafiki provides all your solutions for all you event requirements, from their on-site Venue situated in Witbank/Emalahleni, Mpumalanga to outside events, including planning, setup of the events outside their borders and renting equipment. They offer complete solution to all technical services to your events. Their on-site venue can host between 5- to 10 000 pax at once.

Make a Booking or Enquiry at this Conference Venue