In the past two editions, I argued that presentations don’t make our meetings effective. They mightbe helpful, but they should be the last thing we consider when preparing a meaningful discussion.
After we define what we aim to achieve and who we will work with, it is time to design the content of the meeting. But wait! Don’t open your favorite presentation software just yet.
Design the Content of the Meeting
Once we have defined the iAIM statement (what Initiative we and our Associates are going to discuss to promote the Mission) and we are focused on the purpose of the meeting, it is time to consider its content.
Designing the content of the meeting starts with collecting the relevant bits of data, insights, thoughts, and questions. A discussion missing relevant content will obviously not be effective despite having a well-defined goal. But a conversation with too much information, some of it irrelevant to promoting the Initiative, is equally ineffective. Therefore, as we collect the potential content bits for the meeting, we must evaluate whether each content bit can drive the discussion forward or does it get in the way.
That’s not enough, though. Presenting raw pieces of information without processing them can turn into a considerable overhead during the discussion. Instead of discussing what should be done, the meeting can quickly turn into a data interpretation workshop. For the meeting to be effective, we must process the content and make it easy to understand and use in the context of the Initiative. The iAIM statement we have defined should help us process the information and refine and arrange it to align with the discussion’s essence.
At this point, when you have a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting and relevant content to share, a written report summarizing the question and the input to the discussion can do wonders in increasing the effectiveness of the meeting. With time to familiarize themselves with the material and process it, everyone will be better prepared for the discussion.
And if that is the case, you might not need a single slide. The meeting can start with a short overview of the critical points, and then the actual discussion can begin. If you still feel that a few slides can help you jumpstart the conversation, don’t copy the entire document. Use only the bits you really need to be visible on the screen during the discussion.
In-depth preparation is the key to having an effective meeting. Every minute you invest in preparation will save much more time during the meeting, multiplied by the number of people participating in the discussion.