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Disaster management: what to do if your business meeting has gone wrong

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

A Guest Post by Scarlett Gibson

Disaster management is not just about learning how to put out bush fires whenever they break out or solve issues attributed to natural causes such as rescuing flood and earthquake victims. Disasters happen even inside company boardrooms and they can be manifest simple as when business discussions go wrong. It is when you realize that no one is listening anymore to your proposal or presentation of a white paper and it makes you feel like you want to shout at the top of your voice ordering everyone to pay attention.

Well, you are not alone…these things happen everywhere and every time but what next?

Ostensibly, business meetings are event-like and should always be accorded a lot of seriousness. Most of the time, the success of any organization depends on how seminars, conferences or board meetings are handled. But if in the middle of something, you realize everyone looks disinterested, it is always the time you thought about something really fast, maybe a quick fix for the situation.

Business communication

Remember, if you happen to be the person steering a business meeting, the burden is on you. No one is going to help you put things back on track. So, what are you supposed to do? Do you shout everyone to order? But what if they view such an option disdainfully or as a rude way of handling a situation as precarious as a business meeting gone wrong?

Notably, it is always easy to lose even the attention of a cross-section of your audience who may have still been listening up until you do something silly like shouting. In other words, how you communicate about everything will either make things or hell just breaks loose. You need skills that can help you deal with an already tricky business meeting situation. This is the time to apply business communication strategies that work to resolve conflicts or for clear correspondence.

I will look at this shortly but first…

What can throw a business meeting into disarray?

While sometimes the person steering it is to blame, sometimes the attendees carry the burden of messing up everything. And other times, it can be attributed to external or internal factors. Here is a quick run through some of the things that can rundown a business meeting:

  • Internal conflicts can carry on into a boardroom meeting such as wrangles between workmates and usually, makes it difficult for the person steering session to have everyone listening
  • If the boss is overbearing during board discussions, chances are always that some will feel intimidated or unfairly targeted. This is always likely to turn a healthy situation into a precarious one where everyone will get engrossed in their own things. Some will start keeping tabs on their phones while others will look as if they are lost at sea.
  • Location is another factor that more often than not, has a direct impact on a business meeting. You choose an ample environment and rest assured of a hugely successful situation. Noisy environments are audio-visually destructive.   It shouldn’t surprise when once in a while, you catch a member staring into the distance, perhaps to something more visually captivating.
  • Dress down during company meetings is another reason why things may spiral out of control
  • Failure of technology such as that used in delivery

You can still fix things

There is nothing too difficult to handle in the event that company discussion sessions turn into throwing tantrums at each other. It is not a fire-for-fire thing. You have to at least remain sober as the person in charge. As a matter of fact, a business meeting that has gone wrong where everyone is doing own things or seems miles away from it can still be taken back to normalcy.

The question remains; how do you do it? I will be honest enough to say there is no magic wand here. It has everything to do with following through some practical steps explored below.

Change Tact

Large groups can be counterproductive and it is always the time you tried something different. A simple tact as switching to smaller focus groups will minimize unnecessary arguments and save time. In the case of presentation, it is noteworthy that sometimes people can get bored listening to manuscripts likes robots without discussing anything. A different approach where everyone feels involved is a perfect alternative. It is tactically helpful towards gaining control of precarious situations.

Remind every one of their roles

Sometimes meetings move from a frying pan into the sun and one of the reasons why this happens is when everyone forgets their roles. While overstepping your duties during a meeting may not be voluntary, always remember that every responsibility counts. This is something you should often remind members present. When people forget the roles they play in a meeting and no one cares to remind them, you can rest assured of a disorderly situation.

A brief break helps

No matter how urgent a situation is, understanding that sometimes people get tired and frustrated by technical issues of a business meeting is important. It is always time to release off the tension through a short break or some form of entertainment.

Re-state the objectives of the meeting

Things can spin out of control but it is not a reason to keep quiet. The best way to go about this is by reminding everyone the objectives or goals of the meeting and the importance of achieving them. This way, participants will remain focused even as they visualize projected outcomes.

It’s time for brevity, take charge!

If you are the meek kind of a person, you don’t deserve steering a meeting in the first place. All the same, when it is clear everything has veered off the track, calling out is the first step of correcting a situation. Go about it bravely and bring everyone on board.

In conclusion, impactful business meetings are important to every company. It is for this reason that they are often held whether it is weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. It is, however, noteworthy to state sometimes they fail to achieve their objectives if not steered rightly.


Scarlett Gibson is a technical writer and a content strategist at MyEssayGeek. She is fond of psychology and blogging and is going to launch her business course for freelance writers. Feel free to contact her at G+.

 
This post is part 18 of 18 in the series Make Meetings Work

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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