Every meeting is an opportunity to make professional strides.
Every meeting is like an interview, whether it’s the first time you encounter someone or a scheduled monthly meeting with your staff. A job may not always be on the line, but if your aim is to do your job well, your job in many ways is at play.
To adequately prepare for a meeting you must balance being adaptive with being sincere. You want to come from a place of strength and stability; you should know who you are as a professional and what you have to offer regardless of the situation.
However, your professional identity should comprise versatility when it comes to different situations. Leading a team meeting requires different skills than sitting down with a first-time client, just as sitting down with a long-time client requires different skills than interviewing a potential new team member.
Here are a few meeting preparation techniques that can serve you well in any situation. One of the most prudent things you can do is adapt each of them to your specific professional style, and use the techniques you already employ to steadily come up with new ones as you and your business evolve along with the world.
Do your research
Doing your research sounds like a no-brainer, but it is actually anything but. There are many avenues of investigation that are typically missed in preparation. The basics should cover a brushing-up on the topics you are likely to cover, and some soft inquiry into the parties you will be meeting with, their backgrounds, and their needs.
However, one area of research that typically goes overlooked is research into oneself. You may think that you have yourself down to a science; you know your own personal history, and your resumé is certainly stored on your own internal hard drive, right? But this is not always the case.
Even though you probably know enough about yourself and what you have to offer to make your way through a meeting, you could be missing an opportunity to really shine. When you do research about the topic or individual at hand, keep one eye on your own strengths and choose which to highlight according to the situation.
While you may have a de facto copy of your resumé in your own head, it may not be the best-formatted or most well-suited to the current meeting. Do yourself a favor and take the time to acquaint yourself with you, just as you will soon be acquainting yourself with others.
Taking it to the next level
Going the extra mile in meeting preparation doesn’t always have to mean a new suit or a flashy multimedia presentation. Mediocrity can become the norm in many professional spheres, so think about little things you can do to set yourself apart from your peers.
This can be something as simple as having clear objectives for the meeting, no matter what variety it is. Find little ways to show that you have thought through your goals and decided on desired outcomes, as well as considered any roadblocks. However, make sure that you also leave the meeting open for contribution.
This is a little step that can go a long way, and one that you can customize according to your own personal style. You could hold an “office hours” via email or in person after a large group meeting, where you can give more one-on-one attention to individual concerns or ideas. You could set aside a specific block of time for interviewee questions, and switch it up by placing it in a different position in the interview than the traditional closing few minutes.
Whatever you do, know that there are no bad ideas as long as you give them plenty of thought first and are clear on what each of them will help you achieve.