Top 6 Strategies: How to be Successful in Any Business Meeting

Meetings are often overrated.  People spend hours in unnecessary business meetings where nothing more is communicated than who has the latest ‘interactive’ pie chart.  The smart bosses realise that unproductive time in the boardroom is at their expense.  If a meeting is necessary, then it’s best to be prepared beforehand, otherwise, you run the risk of losing not only the attention of your boss or your client but all those silent things that really matter – like return and respect.  If you really want to be successful in any business meeting, you’ll need to know the top 6 strategies that work;

1.      Check Your Intention

What is your real intention?  Really.  What is it?  What do you want out of that meeting?  Underneath all the superficial gloss, what are you really going to that meeting for?   Whether it’s because the boss called the meeting or you are meeting with a new client, it’s always worth checking your intention before you go in.  When we unpick all the layers of ‘what we want out of it’, we get to the nitty-gritty of ‘how are we going to get it’?  Going into any meeting without checking our intention, is like turning up at the bank without ID.  It’s back to honest basics.  You might want money, promotion, the client or the reputation but people use animal brain to ‘smell’ your real intention, and if that isn’t aligned to integrity, the meeting is a waste of everyone’s time. 

2.      Consider Your Attitude

It can be hard to keep a check on our attitude when we are stressed, up to the edge or really out of our depth.  Checking our attitude, however, is one of the best strategies for a successful meeting.   We need to take a pause moment and consider what energy we are bringing in to the meeting, or in psychological language – projecting.  Think about it.  Would you rather do business with someone who makes you feel (or transfers) calm, friendly, sensible qualities, or someone who looks frazzled and speaks fast?   ‘Poised and grounded’ might be challenging positions to maintain under pressure, but where we have a moment to regroup ourselves we should take it.  Or if all else fails, use humour!

3.      Deliver What You Promised

Nobody likes slimy, shifty BS.  As well as not delivering, it’s a downright insult to the person being spun to.  Your word is your promise.  If you said you were going to do something, make sure you have done it.  If there were any left-field occurrences that prevented you from delivering what you promised, then there should have been a telephone call to that person before dragging them in to be disappointed.  The advice is, if you have really messed up, contact them before they have to find it out for themselves.  That way you will also have had time to think up and deliver a softener.  Reputation is everything.  It’s a silent ongoing whisper on the only social media that really counts.  Be bad for your word once and you light a match. 

4.      Mind The Gaps

The message here is get thoroughly organised.  Be prepared for the other person to ask any question and have all the answers at the ready for them.  This might require a considerable amount of research beforehand but having all the answers ready instills confidence.  ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’, and so do we.  Leaving gaps in comprehension causes the other person’s mind to work hard in filling in the gaps – and their mind won’t like it.  When we realise what notion they filled the gap with, we won’t like it either.

5.      Know Your Audience

Different cultures have different ways of meeting, greeting and holding business meetings.  A handshake in one culture is a boundary crossed in another.  Bowing with eyes up or eyes down is something to be researched beforehand.  And it’s never a good idea to touch the other person inappropriately – you know what I mean.  No clasping, grabbing, shoulder fixing … hugging!  Once the invisible rules of social etiquette have been accommodated, the next thing to consider is this – what do you have in common with them?  People like people they can relate to.  It makes us all feel comfortable if we can find common ground.  Sometimes that common ground has nothing to do with anyone’s business at all. 

6.      Stick To The Point

Waffle, babble, gear-shifting, emotional blackmail, guilt loading, weeping and dodging – forget it!  Smart people conserve mental energy and do not appreciate other people wasting theirs, by having to listen to and decipher garble.  Ask yourself these questions: What is it that you want to say?  What is it that you have done?  What is it that you will do?  When will you do it?  What will you do if your plan needs adjusting halfway through?  What are your contingencies to make it work out for them?   Personally, people who start sentences with a divert such as, ‘look at what you are saving’, lose my engagement right away.  It’s a cheap shot to see if I’m paying attention to what I am actually paying overall.  Keep all of the fluff, faff and psychological tricks out of the meeting and just stick to the point.

Carole Sawo

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