Important and complex topics require nuanced thinking. You don’t get nuanced thinking in a meeting with 13 people in it.
And yet, that’s how meetings are set up. Add a little bit of people’s own personal agendas and a below-average facilitator and you have a recipe for wasted time and frustration.
This is not about how to structure meetings – that’s a whole separate topic. This is about engaging people before the meeting so that you know where they are coming from. And planting some seeds if you need to.
If you don’t know someone that well, it’s even more important to have a pre-meeting, and you can use that pre-meeting to enhance the relationship.
Some people feel awkward at the idea of pre-meetings. Here are some ideas to help.
1) Hold regular pre-meetings
Get in the habit of holding regular 1-1s with your peers and other key people. When you do this you build rapport with each other, understand each other, and get what’s important to the other and how each other thinks.
This is important background when you need something and don’t have a lot of time to explain it.
2) Listen more than talk
Your agenda is important to you. What do you think is important to them? Their agenda.
Listen to their agenda to learn where they are coming from.
Even more importantly that will make them feel heard. And therefore more bonded to you and more willing to support you. Which is the whole point.
3) Make it informal
Meetings are formal. Pre-meetings are informal. Take them out for coffee or lunch or a drink and frame it as “let’s have a chat.” This helps both of you feel more comfortable.
Try these ideas. Do you have any thoughts on pre-meetings? Send me a note to let me know!