Choose the right restaurant
It is essential to choose the right kind of restaurant, depending on the kind the guests you have invited. Consider various aspects such as budget, the ambience and cuisine. Ensure that these aspects are in accordance with the kind of meeting that you planned, and that your guests will be comfortable in such a setting.
If possible, choose a restaurant that you have been to earlier, and where you are known and recognised.
Take time to think over what you want to speak about at the dinner table, well in advance. Be prepared to communicate clearly the issues that you have in mind.
Also, plan the outfit that you will be wearing to the dinner in advance.
Once you have decided on the restaurant and decided on the number of guests, extend invitations to them well in advance. Also, make reservations at restaurant, as required.
Call or e-mail your clients / vendors/ investors a couple of days in advance to remind them about the dinner. Get their confirmation on attending the dinner. Also, ensure that you call the restaurant in advance – before you arrive there with the guests – and confirm your booking.
Be at your courteous best throughout the dinner. Let the guests order first. Fulfill all your duties as a host – make sure that each guest is feeling comfortable and that no one is ignored. Include all guests in conversation. Eat courteously and neatly. Politely enquire whether each guest likes the food and the ambience, and whether they need anything more. Be discreet about paying the bill. See the guests off when dinner is over.
It is your duty, as the host, to be punctual. You should be present at the dinner venue before your guests arrive to make sure that everything is in order. Ensure that you personally welcome each guest, and talk to them.
Limit the alcohol
It is a good idea to limit the amount of alcohol that you order, or do away with it altogether, considering that it is a business meeting.
Take charge of the seating
As a host, it is you who should take charge of the seating. Ensure that you do not seat two business rivals together, as it might lead to an uncomfortable situation.
You might want to follow a strategic pattern in seating the guests.
If possible, have place cards readied, so that each guest knows exactly where he/she needs to sit.
Set the tone
It is you, the host, who has to set the tone for the dinner. Take complete charge of the dinner, and do not let your guests feel confused at any point of time. Determine when it is time to order the starters, the main course and the desserts.
Do not begin discussing business abruptly, but wait for a good moment.
Handle disasters with grace
In spite of all your planning and attention to detail, it is quite possible for a disaster to occur. A waiter might be rude or might get your orders wrong. Two guests might pick up a fight. The restaurant might be unusually crowded or noisy that day. Ensure that you handle such disasters with utmost grace, and that the guests are not made to feel uncomfortable. Do not let the situation get out of control.
If necessary, excuse yourself to talk to the restaurant management.
Say your thanks
As the dinner draws to an end, heartily thank each guest for coming and for making the gathering a success. Also, ensure that you thank the restaurant staff for the good experience that they provided you with.