Prepare for the Meeting

Prepare for Meetings

"I should prepare for the meeting."

"I wish I would have been better prepared." 

Highly effective people will tell you endless stories about people who aren’t prepared. There is nothing more frustrating than taking quality time to sit in a meeting and have someone who has had ample time to prepare a presentation or research some background information, tell you they didn’t get it done. It drives us nuts!

If you have promised to prepare for something, start on it right away. Research your information. Find and price alternatives. Open a file and collect materials so you can assemble and organize all that is needed well before the time you need to write or ready your presentation.

The more critical your information is to the desired outcome, the more attention you should devote to its preparation.

"Some issues require more time for reflection than others.  Too often I catch myself praying for wisdom and guidance; then I go off and make a decision without a pause.  God does not always provide answers with the speed of a McDonald's drive through window."

Patrick Klingaman, Thank God It's Monday

Five Days of Coaching to Help You Prepare for the Meeting

DAY ONE

If you have promised to prepare for something in the past, how well have you done? What is your history of being prepared for meetings? Providing background information? For other events in which you had to play a part? Can you be counted on? Effective people do their homework. This is the day to make a decision that from now on, you will be prepared.

The Coach asks:

  • Honestly, how well do you prepare for the meeting? And by that I mean, all the meetings you have attended in which you were responsible for something? What kind of a history of preparation would others say you have? 
  • How do you prepare for meetings? What is your default mode of preparation? How has that gone? What worked? What hasn't worked so well? What hasn't worked at all? 
  • How clear are you about what you need to prepare for? Are you generally providing background information? A presentation? Something else? 
  • How well can people count on you to come prepared? How close are you to the type of meeting participant YOU would want to work with? 


DAY TWO

If last minute preparation has been your norm, try doing your prep work well in advance. Nearing the deadline then becomes about reviewing your notes and refining your thoughts. The same work needs to be done, just complete it earlier. You will find that the stress relief is significant.

The Coach asks:

  • Do you tend to be a "last minute" preparer? Or, do you tend to be a "done well ahead of time" preparer?
  • What is it that makes "well ahead of time" so much less stressful? Truthfully, which would you rather practice? 
  • If you had all your critical "homework" done, what would that allow you to think about or do in relation to this upcoming meeting? How would that be of benefit? 
  • Imagine having everything ready, and only needing to review your notes or giving a little more reflection to the matter at hand. How would that feel going into the meeting? 


DAY THREE

Create a file for an upcoming meeting for which you need to gather information or materials. This should be a place where you can return easily to review what you have. A little organization now will make your preparation smoother and less stressful.

The Coach asks:

  • How and where have you traditionally kept information for upcoming meetings? Choose a place (paper or digital, don't sweat it) that is easily accessible and accommodates access in a way you like.
  • Use one meeting as an example. What will best help you do the research you need? Researching in one longer session? Carving out a series of high-focus times in which you do some portion? Choose what works best for you? Attach deadlines that have you prepared well ahead of time. (One month, two weeks, two days?)
  • Take some time to get organized. Create a place and way to approach meeting preparation that is clear, simple, and repeatable.
  • Once you DID prepare, what did you notice about your energy level, enthusiasm for the meeting, confidence in the topic? 


DAY FOUR

How much of the outcome is dependent upon the preparation that you are doing? This should indicate to you the quality of time and energy you should put into being ready.  Whether or not anyone sees your effort, determine that this will have your full attention and best work.

The Coach asks:

  • How much of the outcome IS dependent on the input you will provide? As you prepare for the meeting, how cognizant of this are you? 
  • If no one else sees all the background work you put into being well prepared, who cares? You know, and that's what matters. The way you show up and contribute will have some obvious energy behind it, and the results can't help but be noticed over time. 
  • Imagine this is the meeting that is going to "make the difference." Your input will speak to critically needed information and reflection. Your "solutions" will pave the way forward. You will be a difference-maker. How does it feel to be a high-value contributor? 


DAY FIVE

If your preparation work has been insufficient for those you work with, apologize ... and change. Stop being the road-block and start being a catalyst for forward movement.

The Coach asks:

  • Take a hard look at the meetings you attend. Where have you been a roadblock? Where did you have opportunity to be a catalyst? What, if anything, needs to change? 
  • After several "days" of reflecting on how you prepare for the meeting, what have you learned about yourself? What have you determined to change? 
  • How will you continue to do better in this area of meeting prep, moving forward? Aim for continuous improvement. 


Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 

Notes

I don't know of one leader that I have ever coached, who hasn't complained about meetings. They are the bain of organizational existence.

Done wisely, necessary and well scheduled meetings will be a huge plus. Scheduling poorly thought through, unnecessary meetings will drag everyone down.

Determine to make a difference, as you stop now to prepare for the meeting. 


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