What’s the point of meetings?
That’s a serious question. You need to know what you’re there for. If you don’t you shouldn’t meet.
As I’ve written before, an agenda or clear purpose is essential. This post will help you find it and then deliver on it.
The three kinds of meetings
There are really just three types of meetings, and determining how any meeting on your calendar is categorized will help you ensure your needs are met by the time around the conference table.
The sharing meeting: This is a conversation that is primarily about conveying information. It can be a two-way exchange of information or a one-way conversation, where one party speaks and the other listens. The goal is simple: Convey what must be conveyed, address any questions and get outta there.
The decision meeting: This type of meeting is designed to come to consensus around a decision or commitment, though that commitment does not necessarily have to involve resources. Everyone in the meeting should contribute to a conversation that leads to resolution. A decision is made, a commitment is established, and the meeting has met its goal.
The ask meeting: You need something of value — money, time, or one of the other resources at a leader’s disposal — and this meeting is about making your request.
Don’t skip preparation
Preparation is key. Even if you plan ahead while walking through the meeting, you need to determine your strategy. How?
First, know the goal of the meeting. What is it you must walk out having accomplished? The clearer you are on this, the more likely you’ll get there.
[bctt tweet=”If you walk into a meeting knowing what you’re doing there and why, you are in charge of that meeting, and you won’t be derailed from your goals.” username=”MettaSolutions”]
Second, assess possible barriers as well as factors that might cause other meeting attendees to support your goal. What will interfere with obtaining buy-in? What could enable it? If you know what the pushback will look like, you can have a response ready to mitigate it. And if you know what will help your cause, you can leverage it. These strategies for negotiation will likely help.
Stay on target
You’re prepared. You know what you need and the points of leverage or pushback you must manage. But to close the deal, you must manage time and momentum.
Meetings typically have three phases. If you don’t leave yourself adequate time for each, you won’t meet your goal. You sometimes have to be ruthless in managing your time. Meetings are one of those times.
- Introductory discussion: This is small talk, catching up, maybe a little venting of frustration. This is all fine, but it can’t suck all the air out of a meeting. In a 30-minute meeting, this phase gets no more than 10 minutes.
- Outline the goal: You need to be clear about your goal and move toward it. Is it an ask meeting? The request and the case to support it should be made in the second 10 minutes.
- Seal the deal: The last 10 minutes of your 30-minute meeting is for final negotiations, decision-making, agreement, or information sharing. Whatever your meeting is about, this is when the magic happens and you get the job done.
I’ve used these ideas frequently and shared them with many colleagues who find them useful as well. I like to carry a notebook, and jot down the meeting type, how the time will be split up, and barriers or supporting factors right before I start. That puts my head in the right place to move the meeting toward my goal.
Are there other types of meetings in your professional life?
What are they, and how do you manage them? Let us know in the comments!
Last updated October 9, 2018