Perhaps the most important aspect of meeting with your stakeholders, especially senior stakeholders at your customers is to make every interaction as effective as possible.

At points like this in sentences like these you often see the words world class.

You may not reach it every time (or ever – it’s a high bar) but when you are meeting with senior stakeholders, for example in an EBR, you should be aiming to deliver at your highest possible standard.

Over the rest of this article we’ll look at 4 aspects of this including:

  • Understanding the potential of every interaction you have
  • Have a clear plan for every conversation and ensure you then
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare
  • How doing all this allows you to bring an agility of mind to the meeting that enables you to deliver to the best of your ability

Understand The Potential

It won’t surprise you if I return to the theme of value and outcomes when talking about the potential of every interaction you have with your stakeholders. Certainly you will touch on other topics but wherever you can aim to discuss and progress the value delivery for that stakeholder and the wider customer they represent at every meeting.

And, and this is crucial, aim to take value for yourself from every meeting.

Be that a commitment to allocate resource, resolve an issue, deliver a message or make an introduction, you can and should aim to use every meeting as a way to advance your ability to deliver value to your client by asking them for the help you need to do that as effectively as possible.

Have A Conversation Plan

Seems obvious but there are several aspects to this and you want to consider them all.

What do I want to communicate, demonstrate? This may be value delivered, issues resolved, product previews, expansion proposals and so on. How best do I communicate this content? What questions could I ask the audience to allow them to show they have understood.

What do I need to learn? Where does the customer want to go next with our solution, what’s the next chunk of value they are best positioned to unlock with our support? What needs to be done by them and by us to make this happen? This is the perfect scenario for preparation. Have your questions and existing content around value ready to start and drive forward this conversation.

What do I want to get from the customer? How best can I present that request? Can I prepare some questions that open up the area for discussion and allow the request to develop naturally from the conversation? What objections might come up, or sticking points?

For each of these points how do I actually hold the conversation? At Success Methods we have built a structure for planning and executing a great meeting conversation. A little more on that shortly

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Preparation is the ace up your sleeve. You have total control over how you prepare, when you prepare and how much you prepare. Good preparation gives you a head start in every meeting, the best possible start if you truly invest in it.

Yet we often overlook it, fail to invest in it or do it half-heartedly. The irony is the stricter you are with your preparation efforts the freer you will be when the meeting starts and therefore the more likely you are to be able to flex with the discussion giving yourself to best chance of reaching the optimum conclusion.

In summary. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Execute The Perfect Meeting

You’ve prepared, you know what you want to show, what you want to learn, what you want to request and what you want to share with your stakeholder. In any interaction you’ll have one or more of these you want to work through. At Success Methods we believe you’ll do best if you have a structure in mind for the conversation in addition to a clear plan for the content to be discussed.

For this we’ve developed our simple P->ACED structure:

  • Prepare
  • Assess
  • Confirm
  • Explore
  • Decide

Other models for effective conversation / meeting management are available. For optimum results make sure you’re using something to keep you firmly on track during the discussion.

Good preparation, a good plan at your fingertips and a simple mental model to keep you on track during the meeting = an agile mind free from anxiety.

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