I take a lot of meetings. And I can tell you right now, we do not have meetings down to an art. There are 3 essential elements to a good meeting that I want to see:
- You must have a clear answer to the question, “What do you want and what do you want to give?”
- You must have a story for your meeting.
- You shouldn’t want to be my best friend instead of focussing on the purpose of the meeting.
The Give/Want Factor In A Good Meeting
This is the biggest killer. When I take a meeting I want to be able to see that the people I’m speaking to have a clear idea of what they want from me and what they want to give me in return.
Did that sound selfish? Did you read that and think I sound like a tool for wanting something in exchange for my time? Chances are, I don’t want to meet you then.
A meeting is a transaction. Both sides should walk away from it with some kind of benefit. That benefit can be information, it can be tangible, it can be experiential, but it has to be something.
When I take a meeting, I am not afraid to go into it with a clear idea of what I want out of it.
For example, if it’s a meeting where someone is asking me for advice, I’m going to ask them to write me a testimonial.
Always understand what it is you’re asking for. Always understand what it is you can offer.
Have A Story
A good meeting is like a Hollywood blockbuster. It has a story that feels familiar that everyone can expect and relate to, with just enough twists to keep it interesting.
A meeting should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you’ve asked somebody for a meeting, you should have those planned out in advance. Going into it, you should know how it’s going to start, how you’ll introduce yourself and the purpose of the meeting, how you’ll explore the body of the meeting and how you’ll wrap everything up.
I write out the story for my meetings on a notepad as soon as I’ve scheduled them. I review that story the day before and the day of the meeting.
Don’t Try To Be My Best Friend
My meetings are always friendly. My meetings are welcoming and down to earth. But my meetings serve a purpose. They’re not a binding experience for a budding friendship.
I had someone today tell me that they wanted me to turn on my Skype cam because face to face contact helps people to bond. I did not turn on my Skype cam. I was not there to bond. I was there to get something done.
People spend (waste) too much time on this fluff, and let go of the purpose of their meeting, forget why they’re meeting in the first place.
You don’t want to be my friend. You want to get something done. You feel better about asking for something or passing something out if you feel we’ve built some kind of friendship but that’s not going to help either of us have a positive experience.
The fact is meetings aren’t free. I don’t say that my time is money, because money isn’t anywhere near as precious as time. You can always make more money but you can never make more time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. So if I’m sacrificing time that could be spent with the people I love, doing the things I love, I want it to be as productive and efficient as possible.