Keys to Effective One-on-One Meetings

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Here are some suggestions on making one-on-one meetings more effective:

  • Punctuality: Never, ever, ever be late – ever – regardless of who called the meeting.  This is not only courteous, but also indicative of your own reputation and core values.
  • Prepare: Always have an “agenda.”  Show up prepared, knowing what you expect to achieve.  What are your goals?  What do you WANT?  What do you NEED?  If you didn’t call the meeting, what does the OTHER person want/need?  Never just “show up.”  Every meeting, regardless of who called it, is a potential opportunity to further your or someone else’s agenda, so be prepared to ensure maximum return on both parties’ time investment.
  • Clarity: Be clear and up front about what you want to accomplish in the meeting, as well as understanding what the other party also wants to accomplish.  Clarify expectations, stay ‘on message’ and wrap up the meeting by making sure the goals were achieved.
  • Courtesy: If you expect a visitor or a call during the meeting, let the other party know up front.  Nothing says “you’re not that important” than taking a call or visitor during a one-on-one meeting so again – let the other person know if you are expecting a call or visitor that may require you to step away from the meeting.
  • Communicate: Make sure you listen and answer carefully.  You don’t have to always answer right away; if you feel pressured or need more information, let your guest know that you need to get further information but that you will follow up as soon as possible; verify your understanding of expectations or decisions – then deliver.
  • Candor: Be candid and to the point; no tap dancing.  Remember to use tact.  NEVER “handle” your customer or peer.  Go ugly early – if you have bad news, give it up….along with options, risks and recommendations.  Don’t leave the other person guessing as to what you wanted, what you were talking about and what the meeting was even supposed to be about.
  • Document: Verify any and all important decisions, expectation(s) or action items with a follow-up email (“Just to confirm what we discussed…”) or minutes (if it’s not overkill).  An undocumented meeting might as well have never happened.

None of this is really ground-breaking, let’s face it.  This is more a reminder of things we already know.  I hope these help!

© Mark E. Calabrese – 2011

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