They say the worst place to accomplish something is at a meeting because, by then, all the real decisions have already been made behind closed doors. This is especially true if you are somewhat reserved when it comes to pushing your way into a discussion (like many are) during meetings.
So what does it take to be part of those pre-meeting discussions? It takes you ‘getting in front of’ your meetings. That is, it takes you having certain conversations with key players – in advance of the ‘formal’ meeting on a particular topic. Then, when the formal meeting actually does occur, the probability of things going ‘your way’ dramatically increases.
Here’s how to do it:
Step One: Get a clear understanding of what you need to know.
- Who do you need to have a pre-meeting with? Specifically, who?
- What do you need your pre-meeting be about? Specifically, what?
- Why is a pre-meeting, with you, a good use of THEIR time? Specifically, why?
To ready yourself, create a clear and compelling ‘elevator pitch’ for all of the above. As in literally, because, as things happen, you’re likely to find yourself sharing an elevator ride with one or more of your specifically who’s and you’re going to want to be ready.
Step Two: Actually have the conversation beforehand.
Elevator door opens. You walk in. Who’s there? Precisely!
Or maybe it takes a phone call. (Emails and live chats are not encouraged – remember, you’re not just trying to inform, here, you’re trying to influence.)
Then enjoy the fruits of your labor – or learn what didn’t quite work, as intended, and be smarter and more prepared for the next time.
What if you’re not be able to attend a particularly important meeting?
On vacation? Overbooked? Not invited? No worries.
Simply proceed with your pre-meeting, per above, with the following adjustment: Notify whoever is chairing the meeting that while you cannot attend, you would like to ‘weigh in’ with your input.
Then ask what’s likely to be on the agenda, what decisions will likely be made, and when you can call back to share your views once you’ve thought about things. Once shared, specifically ask the chairperson if s/he would be so kind as to share your perspectives with the group, at large, during the meeting. S/he will likely be happy to because: (a) S/he now knows what your views actually are; (b) since you’ve prepared, as you have, your views are likely meaningful; and (c) it’s not an unreasonable request you just made.
Want to increase your impact even more? Get further in front of the meeting by also calling the other attendees and sharing the same perspectives you shared with the chairperson.
Having an impact even when you’re not in the room. That’s a pretty good Leadership Move, wouldn’t you agree?!