As something most working adults can relate to, the average business meeting can be a trying event. Going over spreadsheet after spreadsheet, pouring over trends and graphs, and the seemingly endless slideshows can be dreadful. To help combat the monotony of the situation, the big four companies will entice workers and clients to hang tough by providing a catered lunch. A great meal can always help a meeting go smoother and faster, although there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind to insure a catered lunch doesn’t do more harm then good.
Keep The Portions Small
Catering a successful business lunch means understanding that the meal will always play second fiddle to the goals of the meeting itself. That means that it’s not the best idea to plan an elaborate, four-course meal complete with appetizers and dessert. The best alternative would be to plan a menu with the food business around smaller “finger foods” like tea sandwiches, sushi, sliders, and kebabs. This way, attendees can easily enjoy lunch while still tackling business at hand. For example, the Classic Chicken Club sandwich picture below is a perfect example of the type of entrée that works great for a business meeting. [Image Credit: Bistro Boudin]
Avoid The Heavy Foods
We have all had the feeling before; that post-meal lethargic feeling after a heavy lunch that can make the second half of the workday slow to a crawl. It’s the fatty, starchy foods like pasta and pastries that contribute to that feeling. When it comes to planning a menu for a business lunch, you definitely don’t want to serve foods that will have folks nodding off during PowerPoint presentations. Its crucial to plan the menu around lighters foods like salads, veggies, chicken or fish. As for snacking during the meeting, try swapping cheese and crackers for a dip platter of vegetables and hummus.
Avoid Serving Alcohol
Having a drink or two, while it can be appropriate when on a general “meet-and-greet” type lunch with clients, should generally be avoided during more official business meetings. It goes back to the idea that the idea that the lunch menu should complement the meeting, not interfere with it. It also is not a bad money saving tip either. Attendees getting a bit tipsy could definitely derail the overall goals.
Less Mess is Best
As much as many of us love a pasta dish with a heavy helping of sauce, those kinds of dishes can be a disaster for business lunches. A sauce stain on a new tie, or a helping of Alfredo lodged in the keyword of a laptop can put a damper on the event and distract from the presentation of purpose of the gathering. When you were younger and wondering “what should i get a degree in?”, you probably did not anticipate needing to think about this, did you?
Remember Business Lunch Etiquette
It is important to remember your regular business etiquette during these meetings as well, whether you are attending the business lunch or hosting one with plenty of Chicago gourmet goodies. Most of these tips are simple dining etiquette that you should be practicing already in your personal lives. Just in case you have forgotten, remember these etiquette tips for business lunches:
- Stand until the host of the lunch sits down.
- Use your napkin, and keep it on your lap when not in use.
- Do not rock your chair back.
- When necessary, cut your food into bite size pieces for neater consumption.
In addition, always be sure to stay away from conversations that could cause trouble, like politics. Instead, try using some move on quotes to get the conversation flowing. As long as you remember these traditional etiquette techniques, you are sure to have a great business lunch experience.
Wait To Talk Business
When hosting a business lunch, it is important to consider the appropriate time to start talking business. Even if you have the best communications skills around, it can still be tricky to figure out when to start talking shop. After all, lunch is supposed to be a bit of a break. Take the first fifteen or twenty minutes to relax and get your food and drinks. Once you have both, then you can get down to business. Waiting until everyone has their food and drinks to discuss business matters is considerate and well-mannered. Make sure you remember to allow for a little down time before you start working during every business luncheon you host. Your guests will appreciate it.