Assemble your technology, set expectations and keep on task.
For the home-based business, in-person meetings can be a challenge. Go to the client’s office? Convene at a coffee shop? Meet at a virtual office? All are viable options, but sometimes the client wants or needs to see you in your own space.
How to host a business meeting at home? There are the obvious things: Tuck away the kids and pets. Clean up the clutter. Beyond these, a more nuanced approach can help to set a professional tone and ultimately drive a successful meeting–all without leaving the house.
1. Marshall your resources.
Not every home is equipped to meet the needs of a contemporary meeting. Having enough chairs is a no-brainer, but you’ll also need the proper equipment, says Leslie Yerkes of The Catalyst Consulting Group in Cleveland. Your gathering may require a white board, projector and screen—all the appropriate A/V connections to get that PowerPoint off the laptop and in front of your guests.
2. Stay on task.
You recognize this place as an office. You work here every day, after all. But your business associates may not see it that way. To them, home may feel a little too much like… home. To maintain a professional environment, "keep your encounter organized and with specific goals or an agenda in mind," says Ryan Fleming, co-founder of live-calling service RemindGrams.com in Long Beach, California. By handing out a written agenda at the start and then staying on topic, you’ll communicate that this is a professional gathering and not just a living-room chat.
3. Set the expectation.
Sometimes a modest fee will serve to remind people that this isn’t going to be like a boardroom conclave. Milo Shapiro, a speaking coach with IMPROVentures, will come to your office for a set fee. He will meet in an office space near his home for $70 less, or he’ll offer a get-together in his home for $100 off the base price. For those who jump at the lowest price, he gets to say: "That's fine, but just so you understand, it is my living room. So there could be camping gear, suitcases or whatever. Putting up with that is the price you pay for saving the extra money." By setting the expectations like this, he rarely has to do more than a little straightening.
4. Keep it indoors.
Depending on your climate, it can be a major temptation to take the meeting onto the patio. This avoids the issues of toys under foot, dust on the lintel and dubious cooking smells. But an open-air meeting can have its downsides, too. "We've actually attended a meeting on a patio, and, while the pet was put away, there was dog feces all around the space. Not great!" says Greg Jenkins, a partner with event-production firm Bravo Productions in Long Beach, California. The back deck may seem inviting, but the rules remain the same as indoors: Make sure it is presentable and professional before opening the sliders.
5. Silence the ring.
Our phones are such a part of our lives that it’s easy to forget how much of a distraction they can be. Even if we're used to silencing the mobile device in an office meeting, it’s easy to forget the old-fashioned home phone. "Turn off the landline," says Aron Susman, co-founder of real estate search site TheSquareFoot.com in New York City. "No need to get personal calls during a meeting, plus if you use an old-school answering machine, those messages could be more than you would want other professionals to hear." (Learn more in Hidden Workplace Distractions – And How To Eliminate Them)