Time is our most sacred commodity. Every day we are blessed with 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds of unique opportunity to move forward, stay stagnated or descend backward in our life journeys.
With this reality of how precious time is, it always amazes me when I attend a 1 on 1 or group meeting, and there is a lack of preparation as well as no strategic structure of what wants to be accomplished during the allocated time.
Each time we go into a meeting our mission should be focused on being the most prepared and informed attendee. We should strive to bring meaningful value and insights to the discussion so the meeting is worth the time spent for all.
One of the main goals of meetings is to closely illuminate and examine the challenges, opportunities, concerns, recommendations, future actions, successes, and failures that impact our ability to secure dominant strategic positioning.
It is always concerning when a meeting does not have a written agenda or talking points. Over the years I have found those gatherings to lack clarity and be disjointed in nature.
I have implemented the following six meeting strategies over the course of my career. These lessons have enabled me to see what others do not see. Do what others will not do. Ask what others are afraid to ask. And give more than others are willing to give.
- There is no substitute for preparation. Legendary UCLA basketball coach and servant leader John Wooden was a firm believer that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Enter your next meeting with a list of talking points that prepares you and appeals to the people in attendance. You should always strive to be the most prepared person in the room.
- Bring solutions! Never enter a meeting with a complaint for which you do not have at least one solution.
- If accessible develop a “person positioning map” which will identify key people, their seating position, names, who they represent and their political position (for/against).
- Exercise the ability to be a keen listener. The best listeners acquire the best information. Conducting a “mental feedback” conversation with yourself of what you are hearing during the meeting and your precise understanding will enable you the ability to formulate “smart questions.”
- Ask clarification questions. Never say you understand something if you really do not. Make sure you have clarity of topics discussed and next action steps before leaving the meeting.
- Don’t just show up. Learn or teach something new while ensuring everyone leaves with a clear resolution about what the next steps are.
Throwing money at the problem is never an effective and sustainable strategy. Developing a culture of detailed and strategic meetings that focus on quality instead of quantity will always be a pivotal force in moving the conversation and initiatives forward.