Have you ever hopped in the car with somewhere important to go and just found yourself driving around and never making it to the destination? It may be somewhere we’ve been multiple times, or it may be somewhere we’ve never been before. Regardless, when we get in the car and start the engine, we usually know where it is we would like to go, so our probability of getting to our destination is quite high.
What about a meeting, appointment, or important phone conversation? How many times do we begin one without really knowing or specifying what a successful outcome looks like, leaving others in attendance to think to themselves, “Where is this going”? I think the best way to avoid this scenario is to ask the people in attendance for their expectations.
Business consultant Ray Edwards addressed this in a recent podcast (time remaining 6:03), and I thought his insight was significant. At the beginning of any call he has with a client he asks, “So that we get the most out of this call, what’s the most important thing that needs to happen on this call?”
What a great question to ask! This question is applicable not only for phone calls, but also for meetings and appointments. The question allows everyone in attendance to know the desired outcome the appointment was created to achieve, as well as creating a framework to keep the appointment on task. I’ve already asked this question once this week, prior to a scheduled meeting, and found the insight I received enabled me to better participate.
If you find that your meetings, appointments or important phone conversations lack direction or a specific outcome, try doing one of the following before the meeting:
- Describe to the attendees the desired outcome of the appointment. This is most applicable if you scheduled the appointment. It lets everyone know why they are there.
- Ask attendees if there is any specific outcome they need from the appointment.
Asking this simple question, or stating a desired outcome at the beginning of an appointment, will bring focus and efficiency that may otherwise not be present. Not only will your appointments be more successful, those in attendance will appreciate being asked what is important to them.