The key to a successful meeting is...

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The past few months brought many vital meetings — from the World Economic Forum to the U.S. presidential debates to the 125 world leaders attending the Paris climate-change summit. Participants traveled thousands of miles to meet and reach common goals, underscoring the importance of building trust and relationships in person.

And while there were newsworthy gatherings held these past couple of months, countless meetings, both big and small, are conducted around the world each day. Though seemingly routine, unfortunately not all meetings go as planned.

So what are some tactics that can be used to host a successful meeting?

Hilton, which hosts thousands of meetings a day, knows that while objectives differ from meeting to meeting, it is truly about connecting with others. An October survey of 3,000-plus international professionals by Hilton Worldwide found more than three-fourths of professionals, across generations, overwhelmingly prefer meeting in person.

Once gathered for a meeting, the following tips, compiled from Hilton's survey, can help guide in-person meetings to stay on track and make the best use of attendees' time:

  • Schedule morning meetings. Meet in person, face to face. More than 90 percent of survey respondents favor morning sessions.
  • Coffee! Don't forget to supply coffee: 80 percent of professionals drink their coffee before 10 a.m.
  • Prepare beforehand. Virtually all survey respondents (93-plus percent) insist on preparation. They also overwhelmingly favor starting on time; beginning with small talk, but more so in the U.S. versus other countries (63 percent); and having Wi-Fi and AV equipment available.
  • Broadcast objectives. Include a purpose statement that articulates the objective of the meeting. This ensures the time spent together is focused and stays on track.
  • Be clear about responsibilities, expectations. Know whether a particular topic requires a discussion, a formal presentation or merely an update. This proves efficient and avoids gaffes.
  • Don't get sidetracked. Tackle the important issues first so that if time runs out, the critical issues have been addressed.
  • Supply the essentials. Provide what participants will need, whether it's coffee and tea, pens, pads of paper, Wi-Fi or remote access.
  • Consider comfort. Respondents favor a traditional meeting room, and six in 10 like a window view. Most survey respondents said "comfortable seating" is important and contributes to the success of a meeting.
  • Know the audience. Recognize that rituals and preferences vary across cultures. When hosting an international gathering, make sure that attendees are comfortable and aligned with the meeting setting and format.

Today's big events present an admirable blueprint for running any type of structured meeting, whether that be a meeting of five people or a hundred-plus. Starting with a strategic location, date and time, the gatherings hinge on an overarching topic and goal, incorporate a prepared and high-level thematic debate and feature a notable headliner that keeps objectives in line.

In the end, though, it really comes down to the people and the connections that happen from just being present. No matter how big or small the task, making a lasting impression in person can impact the future and helps reach goals and business objectives.

Andrew Flack, who has attended thousands of meetings over his 25 years in the hospitality industry, is vice president of Global Marketing for Hilton Worldwide.

NOTE: This commentary piece was originally published Dec. 11, 2015, and has been republished with the author's permission.