There’s no such thing as a free lunch – or any other meal for that matter, so be prepared to pay in some way. Whether you’re the guest or the host, mealtime meetings are the business of doing business. And with today’s hectic schedules and work loads, combined meetings and mealtimes can be productive and enjoyable. All you need to do is choose the type of meeting that will deliver the outcomes you want. Here’s what’s required to get the most from your next mealtime meeting…

1. Plan your meeting carefully.

Mealtime meetings must achieve the results you’re looking for – in furthering business relationships and social contacts, or improving your business. Without a plan, the meeting might become little more than a social get-together. If you’re the guest, think about the likely reasons for the invitation; but set your goals anyway. If you think the meeting may go over time, and you don’t want to be delayed unnecessarily, plan your exit in advance – perhaps have a colleague phone you at a predetermined time.

2. Create the right impressions.

If it’s an important meeting and you are the host, make contact with the restaurant beforehand. Find out the name of the waiter who will be responsible for your table. Introduce yourself and explain the importance of the meeting and that you will be settling the account. Tell the waiter how you would like to be addressed and provide some general details about your guest or guests that will assist positive recognition. If necessary, discuss special meals and seating arrangements. You may consider offering to pay an additional amount, say 10 per cent, for very personal attention. This planning will create the atmosphere of a ‘club’ of which you are a valued patron.

3. Dine – to your advantage.

The meeting must make the best use of everyone’s time. If the invitee is reluctant to have a business lunch, provide some options – breakfast, dinner, coffee. Perhaps the other person may prefer a brief office meeting with lunch being brought in. If you’re the host (or guest), try to suggest the time and place for the meeting that best suits your purpose.

4. Select the appropriate mealtime meeting.

Your goals and your guest’s availability will generally determine the type of mealtime meeting you will choose. Consider the following: Breakfast meetings can be held in a restaurant or at your office. Their purpose is primarily to talk business. Their advantages are these:

  • you’re fresh and wide awake
  • a simple menu and quick service should suffice
  • there is no temptation to drink anything stronger than coffee
  • there is a work-imposed time for ending the meeting.

Luncheon meetings, either in-house or at a restaurant, provide for a high degree of flexibility in timing and location. If you want a serious meeting, and privacy, have it in your office. You may even consider having the meeting first, then going to lunch. Luncheon meetings provide:

  • a chance to impress with good food, responsive service, and a quiet atmosphere
  • a convenient and pleasant way to talk business
  • an opportunity to be seen in a business/social environment.

Dinner meetings are more social events to ‘wine and dine’ important clients. Very few big deals are ever closed over dinner, but you can set a specific date for an office appointment or another less social meeting at which you can get down to business.

Other options:

  • Try a coffee break: it feels good to take a break and get out of the office for a little while.
  • Order in: if you’re lunching with a colleague co-worker, why go out at all?
  • Pay your own: discuss ideas and plan areas of mutual interest – and share the bill.
  • Let your hair down: provide a night on the town for clients and their partners.

5. Keep the conversation moving.

Intersperse the conversation with issues of common interest – family, mutual friends, issues peripheral to your industry, sport, or some other interest. Never lose sight of your objective, however. Encourage your guests to talk about themselves, their business, their goals, and their aspirations. Remember the old saying, ‘Bores talk about themselves, gossips talk about others, perfect conversationalists talk about me’.

6. Play your cards slowly.

Get to the point of the meeting by letting your guests see your position step by step. Encourage discussion, and make sure they’re listening. Try to have your guests study your proposals and arrive by themselves at the conclusion you favour – as if it were their idea.

7. Use a note pad to jot down important issues.

Even a blunt pencil can help a sharp mind. Don’t be embarrassed to jot down some notes to act as memory joggers. Always have business cards and brochures on hand just in case. After the luncheon, immediately write a brief note of appreciation and make diary notes on the outcome of the meeting, including dates and future deadlines.

8. Stay focused.

You’re not in the business of buying people meals; you’re in business to do business. If the other person seems reluctant to schedule a follow-up meeting after your lunch meeting, he or she is probably not interested in doing business with you.


Here at Global Training Institute we offer a wide variety of qualifications as well as short courses to suit your needs. Some of our courses include Diploma of Civil Construction ManagementCertificate IV in Project Management PracticeDiploma in Project ManagementCertificate IV in Frontline ManagementDiploma of Management – Business Management and the Advanced Diploma of Management. Some of our short course also include Attention ManagementCommunication StrategiesPersonal Productivity Skills and many more! 

If you feel that this is something you’d like to know more about, please contact us on freecall 1800 998 500 or email Anne at [email protected]

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