How To Prepare For Your Best Meeting Ever
Picture the scene … two stylish ladies in their thirties, sporting this season’s hottest city trends, sitting in a glass cube meeting room at a lime green oval table on orange leather chairs.
Behind one a contemporary black and white photograph and in front of the other an intercom in the shape of an egg. Prior to arriving in this space-age meeting room we were greeted by a six foot replica ape on a skateboard and offered the opportunity to play bar football to the repetitive beats emanating from the free-for-all jukebox.
And then… I sat in horror as Geoff, a man I had only ever spoken to on the phone, in his stiff black suit proceeded to present an overly technical, jargon-filled PowerPoint, in a Professor like monotone, missing the awkward fidgety glances of his audience, and even the not so subtle look at a watch.
I tried to intervene. More than once. He ploughed on regardless, now picking up steam and revelling in his expertise and PhD level findings on the topic of quantative evaluations. Cringe.
Finally, one of the two, bravely stood up and declared a loo break. I don’t blame her. I did my level best to rescue that particular gig, (in my on-trend red trousers with my up beat conversational tone) but it was too late. We didn’t fit. We didn’t ‘get’ them. Game over.
And so I got to thinking about the subtleties of what makes for a meeting that inspires, excites and leaves your potential clients buzzing with possibilities – and what, on the other hand, leaves them wishing you’d leave. Now. Please…? Leave now.
Know Your Audience
My example above is real, which is why I will state the obvious… please, please, pretty please: Know Your Audience!
And I don’t just mean skim read their website. I’m often amazed at how little a website can reveal about the true nature of a business. To know your audience in a way that leaves them with the impression that you ‘get’ them – AND that you are ‘The One!’ you must really understand who you’re dealing with – beyond the business objectives, beyond the mission statement and font.
Clarify and Understand
Taking time to ask yourself some questions for clarity will put you in great stead, here’s some to try on for size:
- Do I understand this industry?
I mean, really understand this industry or sector. Yes, it’s time to take your mate Pete who also works in biofuels down the pub for a good old, under the skin inquiry as to what is what.
- What are the problems and challenges faced by this industry?
Are there specific economic, political, cultural or resource issues that they have just dealt with, are currently dealing with or could be about to face?
- Do I understand this specific business / company?
Why were they established and when? What do they stand for in the world? Who chooses to work in a place like this and why? What is the demographic of it’s employees and customers? Who would they choose to work with and why?
- What are their specific problems and challenges?
What has been the company journey? Are there growing pains? Or stagnation issues? Where are the cracks and flaws? What does Pete reckon? Beyond what they say are their challenges – what are the real problems and challenges? You know, the unspoken yet insidious ones that are so ingrained no one even sees them any more.
- How can I personally solve those problems?
And here’s the crunch… be honest, don’t try and squeeze your product or service, like a square peg into a round hole… can you actually, honest to goodness help these guys?
Good! Then let us begin…
Show that you Understand
Now you have delved properly into the who and why of your meeting, you want to be like them – in Influence – The Power Of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini shares a great deal of compelling evidence to back up the fact that your potential clients want you to be like them, think like them, dress like them and ‘get’ them.
So, if you’re dealing with a trendy digital marketing agency (as above) wear sneakers, jeans and a shirt NOT corporate black, and vice versa. Your colleagues down at the civic centre will want you in grey tweed, thankyou very much. Then speak their language – jargon or not jargon? Conversational or formal. Same goes for the materials you present – wherever you can match their style.
In preparing to meet with them, create a list of compelling questions about them and their industry – don’t worry if Pete’s already given you the answers, the fact you’ve asked shows you have an insight into what they’re actually dealing with, I mean intelligent, I’ve-thought-this-through, worked with people like you a lot, smart cookie questions.
Prepare a Case Study or three. This works a treat.
Prepare a relevant case study or three. This works a treat. Sometimes this is all I’ve done – no need to pitch or ‘sell’ when you can let your other clients results do so for you. That digital marketing agency? Tell them about the great results your product delivered within the Social Media space. Luxury hotel? Load ’em up with data and testimonials from the international Spa brand you helped so well last year. That hotel brand don’t care about your work with local authorities and that law firm couldn’t give a hoot about trendy digital media… you get the picture.
If you’re really clever you’ll use those case studies to inadvertently solve your clients problems… let those brilliantly composed questions lead them into their point of pain and then take all that pain away with one fell swoop. Once again you’re ‘being like them’ when you nod understandingly at their issues and say ‘so and so Ltd told us exactly the same… and then we helped them X, Y, Z’. Done. In the bag. Game over!
Finally, if you’re prone to nerves or this is a biggie, you can prepare yourself physically for optimum mental results – standing in the loo in superman pose may not be the first thing you thought to do at breakfast prior to that big meeting, but believe you me it helps! Have a watch of this great TedTalk to find out why: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
We hope you enjoyed this article, enjoy putting it into practice and let us know how you get on!
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