My recent events, networking strategies and acquisition of new business associates has definitely shown me the importance of knowing how to properly request and conduct a meeting or conference call. A poorly written email or request will easily go unread! There are so many opportunities to make your meeting the best and most productive or a waste of time. Throughout my career I've had my share of both. So I'm offering a few tips that I use to ensure that I don't waste my time or anyone else's.
Develop Your Pitch.
When requesting to meet or speak to someone, exercise specificity. Don't just say " I want to call you to talk about business" Don't say "let's work". Be very specific about what you want and why you want it. Here's an example:
Hi, my name is (NAME). I'd like to soeak with you about (SUBJECT) because (REASON). Are you available at (DATE/TIME) for a conference call/meeting?
Create An Agenda
Once you've landed the call, create an agenda and forward it to the other party. An agenda sets the tone and the flow of the meeting and it keep you on track with the purpose of the meeting. The agenda should highlight key ta;ling points that you want to make sure that you cover. You can also include some predetermined ideas and solutions so that you spend less time brainstorming and more time resolving during your meeting. I created a template that I use for all of my meetings that has proven to be very efficient and keeps me organized. Try creating an outline or template for yourself. You can even get creative and add some graphic or your letterhead.
Take very detailed notes or minutes during your meeting. If the other party is comfortable maybe you could record the meeting so that you could focus on the actual meeting. When I have to take notes during a meeting I always let the other person know that I am taking notes so that I can make note of what actions items are birthed from our discussion together. I also use my meeting notes, or minutes, to follow up with the other attendees and send them a copy of the minutes, if necessary, to document what we've already discussed.
Use the Improv Tactic
Now I'm sure you're asking what is this. I love to use the improv tactic to dispel dead air and quiet moments. I've been taking a lot of calls lately from people who are interested in what I do, but lack specificity on what they actually want to talk about. It's my fault but I try my best to talk to everyone and help everyone I can. Anyway, you can use the improv tactic to keep the conversation going. The improv tactic is simple. You simply answer a questions and immediately respond with another question or the same question. For example if someone asks what I think of a certain subject I'll answer and then add "What are your thoughts on xyz...?" This is a great way to keep the awkward silence away.
Do Your Research.
Before you meet, do some research on your meeting attendee. In this age of social media, you can easily find people's interest, professional news and accomplishments, birthdays, recent travels and even mutual friends. Use these as conversation starters of ice breakers. This will make the meeting a lot more comfortable. Now, use this tactic with discretion. If you don't already follow this person on social media or if the information is not listed on their website. Don't bring it up. You don't want to seem weird or stalker-ish.
Always follow up. I like to follow up via email because this avoids me calling at a bad time or having to set up a time to call just to follow up. I can also clearly layout the highlights of the meeting and any actions items or requested additional information that my meeting partner requested. You ever meet with someone and never hear from them again? Weird right? Following up is essential and it gives your meeting closure.
Now that you've got some tips, requesting, setting, conducting and closing meetings should be a breeze. Happy meeting everyone!