“Why am I here? What’s this meeting about?” Have you ever gotten 15, 20, 30 minutes into a meeting and found yourself asking those questions? I have. On one hand, it is partially my own fault. I should never go to a meeting without having done my homework. I should know who is running the meeting and what the purpose of the meeting is. As a leader, it is my responsibility to make every hour strategic. However, people leading the meetings have certain responsibilities, too. They have a responsibility to ensure the meeting has impact. How do they do this?
There are three key concepts that will help anyone launch a meeting with impact:
If you strategize these during your meeting preparation and then communicate them to your meeting attendees, your meeting (and you) will have impact.
When planning a meeting, make sure you have a clear understanding of its purpose. Why are you gathering these people? What value will it add to their day? How will it help them in their work? What organizational purpose will this investment of resources serve? What questions need to be answered? What challenges pursued? (To understand one aspect of how important this is, for your next meeting take a moment to do a ballpark calculation of the salary cost of one hour of time for all the meeting attendees. Realize that by holding this meeting, you hold that much money in your hands for that hour.)
Distill the answers to those questions into a concise statement (just one or two sentences) and present that at the start of your meeting: “The reason we’re here for the next hour is to …”
You also need to identify by what authority you are holding this meeting. By authority, I do not mean, “I have a doctorate in …” or “Because my job title is …” What I mean is that someone, somewhere in the organization has given you a role and responsibility to engage in this discussion and lead it. For example, your authority statement might be, “Our team in Strategic Alliances has been exploring how to better understand this segment of the market in support of the company’s plan to expand revenues by X% next year.”
With that statement you’ve made it clear you are speaking on behalf of Strategic Alliances and that the discussion will be supportive of a specific organizational goal. That’s authority.
Sometimes an authority statement may be even more specific: “The President’s Council on Operational Effectiveness commissioned our team to …” Some high-profile and specific projects come with special authority. This needs to be made clear.
What if you are the president of your organization? Yes, there is a certain amount of assumed authority. However, don’t take that for granted. As the president you should model humility and what a high impact meeting launch looks like by clarifying your authority for your meetings, too. “As you know, this year we made a commitment to … In support of that, I have gathered this team to …”
Whatever your level or role in the organization, the people attending your meeting will be helped if they clearly understand the authority by which you’ve organized this meeting.
The third concept you need to clearly address is your message. You must prepare for your meeting by knowing, in advance, exactly what your core message is. What is the bottom line? What do you want those people to leave the meeting knowing that they did not know before? Tell them. Let the attendees know what your message is: “At the end of our time together, my intention is for you to understand …”
By telling them what your message is, in advance of making the presentation, you have essentially helped them “tune their mental radar” to the right issues. People are less likely to become distracted. They will ask more informed questions. They will help the discussion be more robust.
Purpose, Authority, Message. Or, if you prefer, PAM.
By taking time to prepare for your meeting and carefully identifying PAM (purpose, authority, and message), your meeting will make a greater impact. Share your purpose, authority, and message with your participants. This will help to make the meeting intentional and strategic for all involved.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.