As sponsorship professionals, we have to go to meetings. There are internal sales meetings. There are meetings with the team. There are meetings with the different departments you interact with. There are meetings with the boss. There are strategy and budget meetings. And of course, there are meetings with prospects if you are selling sponsorships or meetings with properties if you are a brand. Man, there are a lot of meetings! And to make matters worse, at the Partnership Group - Sponsorship Specialists™ we tell our clients they need to meet more with their partners. Whether they are discovery, strategy, or fulfilment meetings, you need more of them until each of you knows so much about the other that you could do each other's jobs! Meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
Recently, I read a FORBES Magazine article by Christopher Frank, VP Global Market Insights for American Express. As he notes and we all know, a successful meeting is when the right people are invited and attend, and the discussion topic or materials are presented effectively and efficiently. The meeting is respectful of everyone's time and allows everyone to contribute in a meaningful way. Finally, everyone should go away a little smarter. Don't we wish all meetings were like that!
Anyway, Christopher had what I consider to be some great advice. He said that, for every meeting, we need to ask four questions.
1. What is the purpose of the meeting? Is it decision-making where at the end we will have made some decisions to move forward or not on something; or is it an information-sharing meeting with important information, facts, new figures, or details being shared, which is really a listening meeting; or is it a brainstorming meeting where those gathered will all contribute creative input and interaction for out-of-the-box thinking? Determine what the purpose is and make sure everyone knows in advance.
2. What is the issue in five words or less? Can the meeting be described in five words or less? Why not have each attendee start by saying in five words or less what you are trying to solve. This will ensure succinctness and brevity, and allow you to get to the point of the meeting.
3. Who has already weighed in and what did they have to say about this? This gives the meeting credibility. If key stakeholders have been consulted, share what they had to say. Allow attendees to come with knowledge to be able to contribute. It reduces the repetition of old news and information.
4. What will surprise me at this meeting? Surprises evoke emotion and interaction. They awaken the brain. They create meaningful dialogue. You will get new unbiased feedback when you have surprises in your meeting.
If I have these questions answered, I will be golden. The best meetings begin with preparation. They begin long before the troops gather. If we can focus on answering these questions before calling or attending meetings, we may have more time to do other things like make money and spend time with family.