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Want a Productive Meeting? Answer These 3 Questions First

Never be caught unprepared again

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 22 Jan 2018

Want a Productive Meeting? Answer These 3 Questions First

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Meetings are necessary, but when conducted poorly (and too frequently) can be an incredible waste of time. One way to make meetings as painless as possible is by ensuring that people show up ready and with a purpose.

No one wants to be greeted with blank stares when asked about the status of the project or if the invoice had already been sent out. It is a waste of everybody’s effort if people come unprepared, as what Abby Wolfe talks about in her article published on Inc.

She proposes asking yourself three questions before each meeting: What’s my role? What do I need to bring? What do I want to get out of it?

For David Rosa, co-founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based fintech start-up Neat, it’s all about priorities and setting yourself up for a productive day.

“Each morning, I start the day by looking at my schedule and asking myself: What do I want to achieve today?” Rosa says, “This helps me prioritize an otherwise chaotic start-up environment. This then carries on into meetings for that day.”

What’s my role?

In a start-up, rarely does one have a single role. Often people don multiple hats, and knowing why you are being called to a meeting in the first place will help you prepare — perhaps you need to polish a report or make a few phone calls first.

If you don’t know the reason you were included, don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re not comfortable approaching the organizer, consult your supervisor or teammate, Wolfe advises. You can always politely decline if you feel that there is someone else more appropriate to be called on instead.

What do I need to bring?

As soon as you know what your role is going to be, it’s time to jot down what you need to bring. Is it the quarterly report of the site’s traffic numbers or studies of a print ad you’ve been working on? Whatever it is, be ready.

You wouldn’t want to be the one constantly saying, “Let me get back to you” or “I’ll just send it later.” Remember that other people in the meeting also have their own agenda — showing up late and without your deliverables not only sets them back on their tasks, it also shows a lack of respect, and laziness, on your part. You wouldn’t want to be that person.      

What do I want to get out of it?

Zal Dastur, co-founder and COO of Lucep, a Singapore-based omni-channel engagement platform, says before going into a meeting, he visualizes what he would like to discuss and the result he expects.

“This gives me a goal to work towards,” he says, adding that, “One of the biggest mistakes I see in meetings is people being side-tracked by small details. People get fixated on something like color or wording and will discuss it at length.”

In short, stay focused. If you’re clear about your intentions in the meeting, you’ll avoid having to say to yourself, “Shoot, I forgot to bring that up” or “Why did I not clarify when I had the chance?”

In addition, Dastur points out that people sometimes fail to take note of the next steps or action items from the meeting.

“If people do not know what they are supposed to do as a result of the meeting, invariably nothing gets done,” Dastur says. “So I like to make sure that there is a takeaway from each meeting.”

For his part, Rosa says, “A very important tool for effective meetings is follow up on outstanding issues. You and your entire team need to be relentless at that.”

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