Business meetings are the most critical part of your travel. The success of travel is defined by success of meeting.
While you may have all the items checked in the business travel checklist, it is a waste if you forget that one important notepad or laptop charger in your hotel. It will come back in the same state as it went with you.
During my trip to Poland, on Day 1 of our workshop, we encountered a situation in the first meeting itself where our systems couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi at client location due to firewall. The presentation was in the mailbox of my colleague, who was to demo a tool as well. He thought he will download it at client site since we were in a rush in the morning to reach office. Thankfully, my colleague carried a pen drive, which we plugged in, copied the presentation from my laptop to pen drive and transferred it to the system which was to be used for the demo.
Many times, we have key documents, sent by others, on internet (our mailboxes), thinking that we will access it whenever required. In a hurry, we do not save it in our systems. I can just imagine if that colleague was alone and did not have the pen drive – it would have been a precarious situation. These small things are often noticed by client as an indicator of how prepared you have been for the meeting and how seriously you are taking this entire process.
Continuing from the business travel checklist, I thought of couple of things in the meetings checklist as well. It is, obviously, a subset of business travel checklist, to a large extent, but it is always good to be more specific.
Formal Laptop bag: Laptop backpacks are very popular these days due to comfort while traveling. But taking some amount of trouble and having a formal laptop bag is a “good to have” and looks more professional.
Laptop charger: It happened once during one of the final presentations to the client when our VP forgot his charger back in the hotel. Unfortunately, he had a kind of unique laptop. Client checked with the IT but they did not have any spare charger of that model. Nobody in our team had a similar laptop so that we can lend our laptop chargers. Luckily, after some effort, he was able to find somebody who was able to provide his charger. However, in that process, we lost some time. It did not cost us anything but could have been utilized better.
Converter pin: Very important. Otherwise, having a laptop charger is the same as not having one.
Pen drive: The incident described before the checklist is good enough reason for you to carry one.
Notepad: Important to carry a professional looking, neat and clean notepad (ideally spiral). It can be used to take quick notes – especially when you are the only one representing your company as well as presenting.
Ball point pen: Important. Otherwise, notepad is of no use. A decent pen, at least a “Reynolds 045” ;), is a must.
Presentation pointer pen: It is a good to have in case you want to draw attention of the other participants on specific areas of your slide. They are not very expensive as well (300-1000 INR).
Visiting cards (around 20): Very important to carry one if you want the participants to remember you easily after the meetings as well.
USB Internet Dongle: For domestic travels, carrying your own internet connection removes dependencies on those data cables and Wi-Fi at unknown (client office) locations.
List of names and designation of key people attending the meeting: It is a good practice to know the people beforehand so that you do not worry about remembering their names and designations during the meeting and focus on the content of the agenda.
A small bottle of water: It is a normal meeting etiquette to have small bottles of water placed in the meeting room but just in case you might not have them, it is better to have them with you. Don’t take it out in case there are bottles already (might be seen as rude). You will normally need to have some water before you start speaking up.
Print out of the presentation: Printouts are good way to quick reference in case you do not want to juggle between the slides while on projector. Also, in case someone else is presenting, you do not want to disturb them during the presentation. It also gives you more preparation time as you can look at presentation even when off the laptop.
Bridge details: Specifically required to be set up and notified in advance in case there are participants you think, should join, or are going to join, the meeting from remote locations. In such cases, setting up the bridge and notifying the meeting organizer about this will also help the organizer to ensure necessary infrastructure in place during the meeting so that participants can join remotely.
Minutes: A suitable mechanism to take minutes is important. In case there are more than one people from your end, one person can take notes while the other one is presenting and roles can switch when required. It becomes challenging when you are alone. In such cases, with prior notification, you can take time out for few seconds, when required, to take notes.
I might still be missing many things over here….feel free to add to this and I will republish this.