I have attended many meetings that lacked purpose, ran overtime and even after considerable time together, it was unclear what we had actually achieved or agreed on. Sadly, many of these meetings were initiated and led by me!
I have crafted a series of questions that I work through prior to meeting, that I bring with me on my iPad to help guide the discussion. This exercise doesn't take long to complete, and makes for a more fruitful time together.
- What is the purpose of meeting? What is the goal for your time together? How will you know if the meeting was a success? If this can't be answered, the meeting shouldn't happen.
- What would be helpful for them to read/watch/listen to before we meet? Giving people time to prepare will lead to better outcomes. The more time people have to prepare (and knowing in advance what is being asked of them), the more likely they are to make a considered and useful contribution.
- How will I begin the meeting? This might be restating the meeting's purpose, but it could also involve revisiting what has happened since the last meeting, or checking in about how they are going.
- What are the key things I want to communicate, and how do I want to communicate it? It's helpful to be clear about not only what you would like to say (including any particular points of emphasis), but also how you would like to say it. Tone matters just as much (if not more) than the words themselves.
- What questions do I have for them? Is there anything that you are unsure about that would benefit from clarification?
- What objections or questions might they have? Similar to the previous question, this is an opportunity to step into the shoes of the person (or people) you are meeting with, and anticipate any potential issues they may have.
- What supporting materials do I need to take with me? This could include reference material that wasn't distributed earlier (see Question #2), or forms that could be signed, etc.
- What response will I ask for? Are you asking them to do something? This needs to be clear in your mind before you meet, and you may need to think about how you will ask.
- How can I be an encouragement to them? This might seem like a surplus question, but I want to be an encouragement to those I meet with, and it helps to be intentional by considering beforehand how this might be achieved. It's also helpful to pray for this outcome.
- How will I follow up after the meeting? For example, will I send a thank you via email, or distribute minutes of the meeting or a set of action steps?
That's my game plan. How do you prepare for the meetings that you lead?