Meetings can be a colossal waste of time especially in a field that harbors speculative conversations like Business Development.
When appropriate, one practice I use to maximize meeting efficiency is to email the meeting attendee(s) an agenda 2-3 hours prior to the meeting. These emails typically contain the meeting objective, an outline of what will be discussed, and any questions that I know that I’ll be asking. An example might look like this:
Subject: Meeting Agenda For Today’s Call
I just wanted to send you an agenda prior to our 2pm call so that your team has an idea of what to expect.
The goal of this call is to see whether your team is ready to implement our solution within the next month. I plan on going over:
- Recent updates to the product
- The benefits it has provided similar partners since we last talked
- Examples of recent implementations
Some additional insight into your current product roadmap would be very helpful to me. So if you could have that ready for the call, I’d really appreciate it.
Looking forward to talking soon,
This email encourages a variety of benefits.
1. Provides A Clear Roadmap – Informing this person exactly what I plan on talking about makes it much easier to stay on task so that things actually get done. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting the breeze to build rapport. After all, deepening the relationship is how to get hard things done. What I don’t like is when meetings turn into a string of hypothetical what-if conversations and something that could have been done in 1 call takes 3. Clearly defining a roadmap for each conversation can help limit these instances.
2. Defines Expectations – Explicityly stating your objective sets the table for your ask and helps the other person know what to expect. In this example, I’m telling them that I’m going to be asking whether they are ready to implement my solution within a month. I’m asking this because that’s the ideal scenario for me. Tell, don’t sell baby!
In the event that they haven’t defined a timeline, this type of passive agressive ultimatum might push them to make my solution a higher priority. If it turns out they’re not ready to implement within a month, they’ll at least be prepared to tell me why not. This is great. I can use this information to counter or move on which is far better than me spinning my wheels because I’m completely oblivious to what they’re thinking.
3. Preparation On Their End – Outlining the questions I have prior to the call gives the other side an opportunity to prepare (if that’s in my best interest). This is far more efficient than having a back and forth following the call because the desired information wasn’t immediately available. This also ensures I’ll be able to ask follow up questions to their answers immediately during the call which saves time.
Sending a meeting agenda is not always appropriate. It’s really a feel thing and depends on the context of the situation. I use them most frequently for 2nd calls and “checking in” meetings. For an introductory call, they may be a bit too formal and off-putting. Remember, it’s important to come off as a person that this person wants to do business with, not a total stiff.
If you find yourself looking to expedite meetings or your process to get the other side to move, try sending meeting agendas. I guarantee the other side will appreciate it.
Some other good articles on this topic: