Preparation: The Difference Between Success and Failure

We’ve all experienced it: Attending – or worse yet, leading – a meeting where the parties are unprepared or under-prepared. It’s a disaster for you, your team – and your customers or clients, as well as a waste of everyone’s time, often resulting in:

  1. Being blindsided with unanticipated questions you may not have an answer for.
  2. Not being on the same page as your colleagues, which isn’t something you want to showcase in front of your clients or customers.
  3. Heading into ‘drift mode’ where the meeting meanders all over the place with no clear intent or desired outcome.

It’s just not good. And it shouldn’t happen.

Your clients and customers expect you’ve been thinking about their business 24/7. At the very least, they assume the meeting you are having with them is just as important for you as it is for them.

Follow this list of seven critical ways productive people prepare for meetings, according to INC magazine:

So How Can You Avoid It?

1) Research the attendees. Make sure you understand the people who will be joining you in the meeting, their roles and responsibilities – and who the key decision maker will be.

2) Determine clear objectives. Most meetings ramble because people wait until the last minute to determine what they want from the time spent together.

3) Plan an agenda. This helps keep the meeting on track, and lets everyone know ahead of time the plan of attack for your time.

4) Consider any obstacles. Are there concerns or challenges that will prevent you or your clients/customers from accomplishing the goal of the meeting or the goals of any activities you’re discussing or putting into motion?

5) Remove any roadblocks. If there are concerns or challenges you’ve identified as potential roadblocks that can be eliminated before you meet, do so.

6) Decide on desirable outcomes. Just as it’s important to have clear objectives and an agenda to keep everyone on the same page, it’s equally as important to decide on what success looks like.

7) Plan/outline next steps and any follow-up activities. What are the next steps each party will need to take following the meeting? Set due dates and assign responsibility to keep everyone on track.

A few other things to consider, depending on the type of meeting:

  • Practice. Go over what you are going to say in your mind. Actually go away, or shut your door, and practice out loud.
  • Review the agenda. Does it have a flow to it? Talk to your teammates to make sure you’re all clear on the intent and flow of the meeting.
  • Talk to your teammates. Talk among yourselves about those potential roadblocks that may come up, and how they could be handled. Having this conversation will ensure that you and your teammates are on the same page. After all, we know what happens when we just ‘assume’ everyone’s on the same page.

Think about it: A meeting with a client or customer is usually the culmination of a lot of work and thinking. Walking into that meeting unprepared sells all that work short, and lets down the team.

Preparation really can be the difference between a successful meeting or a waste of time for all parties. Set yourself up for success – and a win with your client or customer. Come prepared.

As always, stay tuned for more marketing and business insights from Stealth next time we go Off the Radar.