Selling is a team effort, and one of the best ways to harness the full power of that effort is collaborating through meetings. But ask anyone you know how they feel about meetings, and chances are pretty good that they will start complaining. You may even hear some whining about how much time they waste. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can get the most out of your meetings:
Assign a facilitator—Whether it’s you, a member of your team, or different people taking turns, you need a facilitator to focus on the process. Their responsibilities should include keeping the participants on track, maintaining a healthy climate and ensuring that everyone participates and plays by the rules. Having a “traffic cop” of sorts in the room to keep participants from getting in their own way always helps with efficiency and productivity.
Set a time contract and stick to it—In advance of the meeting,determine meeting outcomes and the amount of time you have to spend. Then you’ll want to confirm both at the beginning of the meeting and keep to them throughout. Start on time, and if people are late, start without them. It’s equally important to finish on time as well – if you tell the attendees the meeting will end at 11:30, make sure it does. Everyone will appreciate your diligence in getting them out on time.
Think through your agenda—Make sure to be realistic and give serious thought as to what you want to accomplish in the meeting. Once you have your list of goals, think about how much time each agenda item will require, leaving time at the end to develop an action plan. Don’t try to do more than you can. It is better to work effectively on three items than haphazardly on four or five. The tendency is to try to “put 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag.” Not thinking through your agenda can easily derail what could be a very productive meeting. It’s worth the time.
Decide who should attend—Too often we include extra people in our meetings that have minimal involvement with our goals. Ask yourself if the people you are thinking about inviting really need to be there – and if not, you’ll be doing them a favor by not inviting them. As a general rule, keep your invite list to those people with valuable perspectives who you think can significantly help. Everyone will understand.
Ask yourself the big question—We join companies for many reasons, one of which is to satisfy our affiliation needs. We enjoy our colleagues and when we get to spend time with them, it can be gratifying. But that doesn’t mean we need to call meetings all the time. With that in mind, it’s important to ask yourself if this meeting is really necessary. Are there other ways to accomplish the objectives? Would a series of one-on-one conversations, phone calls or even emails suffice? Of course, if your situation warrants a meeting, call it.
Collaboration will increase if we tap into our resources and interact when necessary. We will never suggest that you avoid sitting down with colleagues who can help. It’s just a matter of taking measures to ensure that your meetings are as productive and efficient as possible. The results will speak for themselves.