Recently, I’ve been attending lots and lots of meetings. I like talking to people, learning, brainstorming, smiling, etc. One thing that has been pretty consistent though is that people are not doing their “homework”. Teachers didn’t talk about the importance of homework in our 17+ years of schooling for nothing.
Some of these meetings have consisted of bringing someone up to speed on what we’re doing (and maybe on information that was contained in an email sent days ago explaining everything). It wastes time (a.k.a. money) and people just don’t love meetings (it takes away from them doing their actual work). You don’t want people wasting your time, so don’t waste theirs.
A couple months ago we sent a document to a client by the deadline that they set. The next afternoon they had a meeting scheduled with us to discuss their feedback on the document. When we met with them, they skirted the issue and eventually confessed they hadn’t actually looked at the document. We met our deadline, why didn’t they? We could have saved 30 minutes of our time working on something else.
Some examples of “homework” include:
- Reading the whole meeting invite so you know what the meeting is about and who is coming
- If you are running the meeting, know what you’re going to talk about in a specific order and stay on topic (don’t stall or change the subject)
- Read questions people send you and prepare answers for them before the meeting
- Anticipate questions you might receive (and prepare for them)
- Make sure you prepare any “takeaways” from the last meeting
Yes, you are busy (and you would “love to do this in an ideal world”), but imagine what being on top of things can do for yourself – it could easily shave 15 minutes (even 30) off your hour long meeting (and everyone loves getting out of meetings early!). Come in a little early to work, jot a few things down for each meeting, and BAM you’re prepared.
And just remember the saying: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”.