How often do you attend meetings without preparing for them?
Yesterday was the first time for a long time that I’ve attended a meeting without having at least some idea of what it was all about. The managing partner of a large firm of accountants had suggested that there might be some beneift in me meeting the head of their tax function and their operations director. It seems we had all guessed that the Managing Partner (who was unable to attend) was curious about my new business venture. In the event I’m pleased to say the meeting was worthwhile but it was hard to prepare for it.
I did think about what we might address and why the Managing partner had suggested the meeting. I’m not going to say too much here as I don’t want to identify the firm – professional confidences and all that. To my surprise we moved onto talk about my role as a coach and mentor of partners and prospective partners. I had assumed that firms of that size had in-house partner development programmes but it seems there may still be good reason to engage me. Fingers crossed. Of course I’m happy working with partners in any size of firm – as long as they pay the fees!
Back to the topic of this blog. It’s far more common to know why you are attending meetings. This is true regardless of the nature of the meeting and therefore covers client meetings, pitching for new work, networking, internal meetings, partner meetings, management meetings, appraisals and business lunches. And in each case either you’ve been invited to attend or you’ve invited yourself.
But knowing why you are attending a meeting is not the same as preparing for the meeting so that it’s a worthwhile use of your time and that of the other people present. You will always gain more from the meeting if you have prepared for it beforehand. The level of preparation will vary depending upon the nature of the meeting but there are some generic things you should consider if you have initiated the meeting:
What is the reason for the meeting? – Does everyone who will be there have the same expectations?
By the end of the meeting what do we want the other party to…..
…… KNOW (or understand about us)
…… FEEL (as in their attitudes towards us)
…… DO (take specific actions)
WIFT (What’s in it for them)? - Why should they know, feel and do what we want?
What do we need to do to achieve the 3 aims above?
I’d welcome the thoughts of ambitious professionals as to how they prepare for different types of meeting.