Mastering Meetings

Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Meetings

So much emphasis is put on developing skills for presenting that sometimes how we interact with others in a meeting is neglected, although it is one of the key skills for management.

 

Meetings are an important forum for information sharing, idea generation and decision-making. They are the communication hubs of the organisation. Yet how many of us attend meetings which are focused and productive?

The most effective meetings are those where executives are able to express their points of view, provide concise and relevant updates, answer questions succinctly and table proposals. This allows the business to make good decisions quickly and efficiently rather than decisions based on incomplete information or driven by political motivations.

Meetings are also an opportunity to motivate people, achieve shared understanding, and ensure a common purpose and agreed objectives that are aligned to business strategy.

So how should you approach a meeting?

The answer lies in preparation. 


1. Set an objective

Consider the role you will be playing at the meeting. What messages do you want to get across to your colleagues and what do you want to find out? What issues are you seeking decisions on?

Your role may be:

Meeting lead

Information provider

Information seeker

Proposer of a business proposition

Whatever your role, consider what outcome you want from the meeting.


2. Develop a Meeting Strategy

Consider the people who will be attending the meeting and who you need to influence in order to achieve your objective. In a management team meeting, or a project team meeting, participants tend to represent different functional areas. It is rare that these different parties will have identical wants so find out as much as you can about people’s views on your proposition before the meeting. For example:

• Commercial - want a good financial outcome/positive cashflow

• Purchasing - want conformity to terms of business/procedures

• Management - want engaged employees and a successful outcome

• Legal - want to have legally binding agreements which protect the business

• Clients - want to benefit from your product/service for the right price

• Suppliers - want new business with fair terms

Work out who is key to getting the decision you want.

 

3.    Anticipate Objections 

You can test your ideas with trusted contacts and question the people you want to influence. By introducing an idea early on, you can give people time to consider it. By understanding people’s initial reactions to it, you also give yourself an opportunity to understand potential objections and to alter your messaging plans before the meeting starts. Use conversations, meetings and other forms of dialogue to collect essential information that will help you to influence your colleagues.

Anticipate what the starting mood of the meeting will be. What are the real motives of the person/group? Try also to understand what personal issues (if any) may be affecting the situation. Try to see the situation from your colleagues’ point of view.

List the pre-meeting position of the different parties and where it is you want to transition them to:

What is their starting position on your proposal/project - and where do you want them to be by the end of the meeting? Thinking about the different priorities and interests of the attendees can help you to offset objections more effectively.

 

4. Prepare Your Message

Use a simple framework to help you arrange your thoughts and make the most of the opportunity that the meeting will provide. 

What are the main points you would want people to remember? To make your message persuasive:

• Include the reasoning behind your argument where appropriate by preparing data/facts and figures to support your case

• Consider the areas on which you might appeal on an emotional level

• Consider what will give you credibility.

Try to anticipate the path that questions and any ensuing discussion that might follow.

A meeting should be a forum for constructive, two-way dialogue, so as well as getting your own messages across effectively, you also need to be open to others’ points of view. Listening is just as important as speaking and will ensure that people feel their views are being heard. A decision reached collaboratively will ultimately be more effective.

If you are interested in improving your communication style in meetings, please call us on:

+44 (0)208 579 6662

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