Imagine the situation, which I have had quite often today and in the past, you sit in a meeting and need a decision about a topic from the people around the table.
But they are stuck in an endless detailed discussion. All you wanted to do is to put together three slides on a specific topic. But at the beamer you are still at the first slide and it is still empty. Only the first three words of your first sentence are visible with the pointer blinking…
Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe not to the same extend, but maybe you were in a similar situation already or if you are new at work will be in such situation for sure. But how to change or avoid that?
During time I found out that I have the ability to lead meeting to a successful end. My Gullup strength finder calls this strength “Focus”. It’s one of my top 5 strength. But that’s only one part. I think another reason why I am capable of getting what I need out of these kinds of meetings is that I never go there with empty slides.
I learned that some time ago from one of my former bosses. He never ever went unprepared into a meeting. Really, I saw him never without prepared documents. I was impressed! And I started to make that my habit as well.
How to do that?
Expert or Management discussions
When you need to find a concept for something or an agreement on something, you probably have to invite for a meeting with all decision makers (leader, managers, experts etc.).
In order to reach a fast decision, prepare decision proposals or at least a basis document or presentation (a few slides only) that contain what you want to send out, publish, release etc. Write down your view, take it with you into the meeting and show it to the participants (at the beamer where everybody can see it). Then open the discussion.
People discuss much easier on something that is existing in order to improve, correct or deny it, then creating something on a blank page. When you have a blank page, people tend to discuss sentences word by word and loose themselves into details. If there’s something written, they are looking at the topic from a higher perspective and are better able to see the big picture and not the single word.
Before going into the meeting you could even discuss your proposal with some key stakeholders, to get you some allies during the discussion. Actually, that’s some kind of piloting as well. Because you have to discuss you proposals with at least one, better two of the decision makers. You do some kind of pilot (test) your proposal.
By doing so, it gives you a much higher chance to reach a common decision. I do this for every important meeting, where people are invited that I need a decision from and that otherwise are very hard to get again.
How to identify the right stakeholders? That will be part of another article soon.
You can apply the same principle to yourself and to the things you would like to accomplish for you.
For your team leader or manager
The same principle of preparing decision proposals applies also to discussion with your team leader.
If I need a decision from my boss I collect all necessary information for him to make the decision. I put together 1 (ONE) slide. This slide shows the main points, pro, con, my solution proposal(s). Sometimes it is only one proposal; sometimes it is two or three possible scenarios.
I always recommend one of the proposals. That is, by the way, my possibility to influence decisions and push into the direction I want to go. (also another article to come)
Then I print this slide. Sending it via Email is possible as well, but for me it was always much more effective to print it. My bosses, and I actually assume many people out there, still like paper. It has another advantage.
When I send the slide it goes to his or her email inbox and might get lost in there. Or, he or she opens it to discuss it with me and at the same time another email pops into his inbox. This distracts him from concentrating on my slide.
But if I print the information on paper, my boss looks away from the screen down to my print on his desk. My chances to be able to finish my explanation without distraction grow allot.
I do this for workload discussions, when I ask him for priorities, when I need a strategic decision, when I need an agreement to a longer (more expensive) business trip, a training need etc. This works very well so far and I can really recommend to you trying this as well.
Let me know if you were successful or not down on the comments.