Let’s focus on all those big meetings that we have in our career. The ones where you close multi-million dollar deals, hire your next C-Suite Executive or report your company’s quarterly performance to your board. Oftentimes you may end up achieving nothing to write home about or worse – creating unnecessary work or problems for yourself! And in order to solve this, you would probably get caught in a vicious cycle of meetings. Here’s what I do to stop this cycle – have meetings before meetings, a sure way to gaining power and influence! Here’s my three step “secret” for breaking the vicious cycle of unproductive meetings:
Have meetings before meetings
This is a nod to the popular adage, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Meet people and have short discussions about a meeting before a meeting. Send attendees the presentation or documents you are working on. Ask specific questions to find out about their expectations for the meeting, their views and ideas on the subject(s) being discussed. Be it entrepreneurs, professionals in the middle-management, or the C-Suite, the best leaders out there hold a series of short meetings in the run up to a big meeting.
Find the Pulse
Be conscious of the insights, opinions, and ideas coming your way when you have your short meetings before a meeting. This way you can put your finger on the pulse, and before you know it, you will find answers to issues or the direction in which your team is headed.
Align and align again
Once you know the pulse of the meeting attendees, it is up to you to align them. At this stage, send out a clear-cut agenda, set expectations of what possible solutions you will be discussing and do anything in your power to help people come prepared for meetings. Trust me, you are doing yourself and all the attendees a big favor!
Here’s how to use the above three steps for:
Effective Board Meetings
- Mail any materials like presentations and other collateral five to seven days in advance. I normally like to send a video presentation that acts like a report of our quarterly performance to my board. This gives them plenty of time to review performance and jot down relevant questions well before the actual board meeting.
- Have higher-level conversations that discuss operational and strategic aspects of your business.
- Email your questions to board members and have them email you any questions back.
- In the actual meeting, make sure that you spend more time discussing the way forward rather than focusing too strongly on past achievements and missteps.
Winning Sales Meetings
- By the time you can even start using the three “secret” steps, you should get the right person on the phone or have your first face-to-face meeting. At the enterprise level, these people could be decision makers or the actual buyers.
- Many times, your potential client doesn’t know that they have a problem that you can solve. Create a clear value proposition by identifying the big problem areas and how you propose to solve them for your potential client. Communicate this well before the actual meeting.
- Again, email your clients any relevant marketing and sales materials like case studies and success stories.
Results-Oriented Team Meetings
- You can approach your “smaller” meetings in several ways – through emails, Skype conversations, face-to-face conversations. Have conversations with individual team members or informal conversations with different teams.
- Understand where people stand, identify any misalignment, and then start aligning your team members.
- Strive for consensus before the actual “formal” team meeting. This way you already have a clear direction and can focus on charting out the actionable steps to achieving results during the meeting.
Keep in mind that when you hold meetings before meetings, your focus should be on influencing and aligning and not on manipulating!
Being conscious of this is a great way to gain the right kind of power and influence for success. By holding meetings before meetings, you avoid having to play moderator to an epic, unproductive meeting where the loudest member possibly wins. Use the three “secret” steps wisely and of course, don’t tell anyone!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!