Meetings are important organizational tools. Whether as one-on-one conversations or as larger all-employee information sharing sessions, meetings are integral components of getting work done. Despite some obvious benefits, most meetings are not very productive and are longer than necessary. One of the primary reasons for the lower productivity of meetings is that attendees come unprepared.
Assume you have consented to attend a meeting because your participation is critical to the objective of the meeting. What questions will you ask to prepare for the meeting?
- Have I read the meeting agenda? What is the objective of the meeting? What is my role? How will I contribute to the meeting?
- What segment of the meeting is relevant to me? Can I join late or leave early if I am not required throughout the length of the meeting?
- Is this a follow-up to a previous meeting? What action items had I agreed on then? What results will I present? What questions will arise?
- What relevant pre-reading material should I seek?
- What research do I need to do? Whom on my team should I talk to regarding items on the agenda?
- What is the desirable outcome? What is the undesirable outcome? Is there a compromise?
- What positions am I prepared to take on key issues being discussed in this meeting? What facts and charts will I present to support my position?
- Who are the other attendees? What positions are they likely to take on key issues? Why? What are the likely group dynamics: who will support me, who will oppose my positions? What counter arguments will I present?
- What other attendees should I talk to prior to the meeting to garner support to my position? Can I invite additional attendees to the meeting to help support my position? How will I persuade other people to see my point of view?
- What action items am I willing to take? Do I have the necessary resources? Will I participate in follow-up meetings, if scheduled?
Meetings are all about sharing thoughts in a collective setting. They are only as good as the ideas that attendees bring to the discussions. By asking the above questions, you will contribute to focused, productive meetings. You owe it to yourself, the meeting leaders and to your fellow-attendees.