I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of.
– Sam (Ronin)
I am often asked how to prepare for a meeting or negotiation or even a confrontation. All too often I find that people approach their encounters with others – even important gatherings – with a curious devil-may-care disposition. It’s as if they love living on a tightrope that might snap at any time. It’s one thing to like an adrenaline rush. It’s quite another thing to suddenly become the pawn to other people’s plans. Without advance planning, you can quickly find yourself reacting to the agendas of others and not responding to your own needs.
What if I told you that you could control every meeting and get what you want out of it? An added benefit of what I’m going to show you, by the way, is that it can be applied to just about everything you do in life. It’s really that powerful.
First, you need to precondition your meetings. This means first figuring out what you want out of the meeting in the first place. Never walk into a meeting without knowing what you want to walk out with. I need you to get absolutely focused and clear about what you want to achieve, get, or establish. You do this by asking yourself the following questions:
1. When the meeting is over, what has to have happened for me to feel better?
2. When the meeting is over, what has to have happened for the other people to have felt better?
If you don’t figure out what you want to accomplish in any interaction, then it’s going to be figured out for you by someone else.
Second, start preparing for your meeting by actually scripting out what the meeting might sound and look like. That’s right, imagine what has to happen for you and them to feel better. Let your creativity run wild as you daydream about your meeting. And make sure that you spend enough time with your vision so that you’re comfortable with what your imaginary meeting has to be like in order to accomplish your goals.
If you need help scripting what has to happen in your meeting to accomplish your goals, here are some books to help get you started:
How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to be Persuaded (Joel Bauer/Mark Levy)
Pitch Anything (Oren Klaff)
Power Questions (Andrew Soblel/Jerold Panas)
Influence (Robert B. Cialdini)
You might also remember these rules:
It’s not what you say, it’s how you are heard.
It’s not what you do, but how you are seen.
It’s not what you think, but what you show.
It’s not what you make, it’s what you give.
Third, pick the top three things you want to address or focus on in your meeting. I’ve written about the Power of Three before. It is no different in creating meetings that have outcomes that you desire. And, in expressing these top three things, script them as if you were going to tweet them – 140 characters. This will force you to create sound bites that are easily digested and understood.
Finally, never leave a meeting without some type of follow-up or action item that is designated. It’s far too easy to finish up and then have all your good work be forgotten later on. You need to hold yourself and others accountable for getting things done.
These tips work for any meeting with anyone. And they work even if you’re not the one who called the meeting or you are a subordinate. By practicing these techniques, you are really building your confidence and determination. And you’re creating an inner agenda that keeps you from being a doormat for others.
Everybody always wants the same thing: to feel better. If you will just remember that, you can easily fashion a meeting, conversation, email, or even a simple wave or smile that lets YOU powerfully control any encounter and makes you the authority.
And one more thing . . . always, always, always start your meetings on time. You teach people how to treat you every single time. If you’re going to be sloppy about your start times and the value of your personal time, then that’s how others will see and react to you.
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