Planning the perfect meeting is so much more than putting together a compelling PowerPoint presentation. Much of a meeting’s success has to do with not only the flow of the presentation itself, but also the care you put into creating a welcoming environment conducive to productivity for all of those involved. A professional mentor once told me that he never schedules meetings that would last longer than it takes a butt to fall asleep in a seat. I love that philosophy, but in today’s meeting-filled business world, it can often be unrealistic.  

The best way, then, to keep the room’s attention high is to provide ample comfort options, besides the comfort level of the chairs themselves, of course. When it comes to keeping productivity high in lengthy meetings, there are two magic words you need to remember: “food” and “coffee.”  

High-quality catering is the key to a happy team’s heart. And a happy team is an effective team. Providing an array of healthy (okay, and maybe even some unhealthy) food options at meal time and throughout the day as well as a steady stream of excellent coffee demonstrate your appreciation of your team and your high level of respect for company guests. If a meeting has to extend throughout breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this is the best way to ensure attendees aren’t longing for the door or regularly interrupting the meeting to sneak out for a coffee or “bio break.” Or worse, falling asleep at the table – mentally or physically.  

But with a seemingly endless array of types of catering and food delivery options found in most cities coupled with the many dietary restriction possibilities of employees, planning a meal for your meeting can feel like an exercise in futility. Add that to the many other tedious responsibilities of meeting planning, and you’re likely to find yourself spending more time on planning a meeting than the meeting itself.  

In fact, research shows that employees spend the average office employee spends over five hours each week sitting in meetings and over four hours preparing for them. That’s more than an entire working day devoted to meetings. So how can you ensure you don’t waste even more time planning for meals while planning for meetings? These are our tips for quickly and easily checking the catering off your meeting prep To Do list and improving your meetings with a catering management tool.  

A robust meeting management solution should include catering management as part of their offerings, like AskCody’s Meeting+, which lets users book exactly what they want from a menu of catering options directly from Outlook on the desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.  

 

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1. Provide an array of options for every attendee 

We suggest serving an array of smaller portioned finger foods that are easy to eat, relatively neat, and diverse. It’s important to provide options in case there are those in room with dietary restrictions, allergies, vegetarians or vegans, or of different cultures. There are few things worse than being the vegetarian in the room staring at a tray of lunchmeat sandwiches.  

We emphasize small portions, because you don’t want to weigh people down with a hearty meal, such as pasta or burgers, which is going to zap the energy right out of the room about 10 minutes later. Small portions also give attendees the option on grab a little something to munch on later if they get picky, in case energy levels start to droop.  

2. Set the pace for the day 

Face it: People get picky, especially when confined to a single room for an extended period of time. That’s why it’s a good idea to provide a variety of healthy snacking options, such as fresh fruit and granola bars, as well as a sweet treat, such as cookies, for people to snack on throughout the day. A little dose of sugar—natural or baked—can do wonders for keeping energy and morale high.  

Eating is a social activity, and small, intentional breaks to encourage snacking, coffee, or drink refills help break up the day, promote “watercooler talk,” and inject a little energy. Meeting attendees can get to know each other more socially, without having to even step out of the meeting room. These micro-breaks are a good idea, no matter the length of your meeting.  

3. Set it and forget it 

An integrated catering management tool within your meeting management solution let’s you easily select your catering options for the day right from within your Outlook or calendar in just a few clicks. Menus and food options can be pulled up right inside the solution, so there’s no third-party interface to deal with, no phone calls to make, and no physical menu wrangling to worry over.  

Plus, with a tool like AskCody’s Meetings+, you can select your catering options and then forget it. If your meeting is cancelled, rescheduled, postponed, or moved to a new location, the catering company or company cafeteria is alerted instantly. Your order will move with automatically you without the need to log back in and make any adjustments. If the meeting is cancelled, the order is too. With this type of power at your fingertips, you can focus on the important tasks at hand—like creating that perfect PowerPoint presentation—instead of worrying about food.  

Let the technology do the heavy lifting. With high quality food offerings at your meeting, you can rest assured that attendees won’t be longing for the door. And if they are, it probably says something about those PowerPoint skills.

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