As a busy project manager the last thing you need to happen is being involved in meetings that are unsuccessful to you, in terms of their outcomes. Going in to any meeting you have to know exactly what you need to achieve in it, and take away from it, in order for it to be a successful meeting. So, what can you do to ensure that you achieve your meetings objectives?
The first key to a successful meeting is to be fully prepared ahead of it. Knowing your brief and being able to convey your message in clear and concise terms will be essential to you succeeding in the meeting. That level of preparation is, of course, entirely in your own hands and is down to your personal skills. However, what about the other people in the meeting – how much can they be in your control? We’ve all been to meetings where we know someone (if not several people) will either have a pre-conceived idea that they’re not going to accept your points or that they will simply be down right disruptive. This is where your personal and interpersonal skills need to come to the fore. Your personal skills are used in preparing and delivering what you have to say – getting the approval of others can be down to your inter-personal skills as much as the quality of what you had to say.
Using a forceful personality, assertiveness, to effect push something through, should be seen very much as the last resort. If at all possible you need to get others in the meeting agreeing with you and understanding, or at least accepting, that your ideas are the ones needed for the project to progress correctly. (Notwithstanding of course that others may well make helpful contributions that can be incorporated.) To do this you need to ensure that from the outset of the meeting you have established objectives that are mutually agreeable to all around the table, preferably by building a joint agenda. In doing these things you can be confident that there is common ground on which all the participants will be engaged in. Thereafter – you need to present your case with the degree of clarity with which it was prepared, being quite comfortable in maintaining flexibility to any points made about it, being constantly alert to any negative body language or overtones in any responses to your case. Do give time for others to air their views too, but be sure to make your response one that finds common ground between their point and your objectives – in order to promote the sense of everyone benefiting from the outcome you desire.