Recently I attended a meeting with our church’s leadership, and as I drove home from it, two thoughts kept bothering me: I wasn’t prepared enough for the meeting, and I said too much in it.
The following week, I set up an appointment with an advisor for input on my meeting contribution. (The role of the advisor is captured well by Michael Hyatt in his post “Who Are Your ‘Trusted Advisors’?”.)
This advisor had heard me present in several meeting environments (including the most recent one), and had watched me interact with church staff and members. He recommended several points of improvement for me, but the one that was most impactful was this:
Be the most prepared guy (gal) at the meeting, with a plan to say the least.
We’ve all been in meetings with people who weren’t prepared to speak authoritatively on a subject, but did it anyway. They spouted content without substance. And even if spouting is done well, waxing eloquently doesn’t equate meaningful content.
We’ve also been in meetings with well-prepared people, who because they were so prepared, subsequently chose to take over a meeting with incessant talk. Again, filibustering doesn’t equate to quality content provider.
What’s the best mix of preparation and spoken contribution in a meeting?
Specifically, what’s the best plan of action when you’re a participant in the meeting, but not facilitating it?
On Being Prepared… a few reminders, for prior to the meeting
- Have I gathered all my facts?
- What questions can I anticipate on this agenda topic?
- Have I searched my paper files and e-mail for all correspondence which may be relative to the meeting topic?
- Have I studied enough that I have key information and metrics in my head?
On Saying Little… a few reminders, for during the meeting
- Only speak to a topic after you’ve answered this question to yourself:
Am I speaking to bring value to the conversation, or for some other less worthy reason?
- Resist the urge to control the output or concerns of others.
- Listen reflectively.
- Don’t formulate rebuttal comments while others are speaking.
I’ve by no means got all this down. After most meetings I lead or participate in, I feel there’s ways I can improve.
Wouldn’t it be nice if people said about this about us after they left a meeting…
“They don’t talk a lot, but when they do, they bring a lot of value”?