Most of my clients have important and/or challenging meetings with people every week. These might be a sales pitch for a new offering, a challenging conversation with a direct report, or a meeting to hear constructive client feedback. The question I always ask after the meeting is: what the meeting successful? Some of my clients answer with an external critique: “The client seems to be seriously considering the offering, so yes, it went well.” Or “The individual didn’t have an emotional reaction to the feedback, so yes, it went well.” Others will answer the question with a more vague response, “I think so.” Or “All indications say it went well.” If you know me, I don’t accept vague answers. We need to have something to measure against – success criteria. 

What are your success criteria?

If I have a chance to meet with my client before the meeting, I ask them what the success of that important meeting looks like.

Many times they focus on the things they do not have control over. The client buys the product, and the employee hears the feedback and immediately takes action.

It would be wonderful if you had control over those outcomes! They would be ideal. And yes, you can do your part to help achieve those outcomes. That’s what I like to focus my client on.

Internal success criteria can be defined

For example, with a difficult conversation with an employee, some internal success criteria my clients have defined are:

  1. I won’t get emotionally hijacked by their reaction
  2. I will clearly articulate the issue and ensure they understand my message
  3. I will ask open-ended questions to get more insight
  4. I will ask how I can support them in taking the action to shift their behavior

It does not take much time to reflect on your criteria

These are all aspects of the meeting you can control. It does not take much time to reflect on your success criteria for an important meeting you are about to have.

This reflection time helps you set your agenda on who you want to be, how you want to show up, and the important aspects of the meeting that are in your control. It also clarifies things you want to avoid as they don’t serve a purpose in making the meeting successful. We often get caught up in the ‘doing’ aspect of having the meetings that we don’t take enough time up front on the reflection piece to ensure the meeting will be as successful as possible.

Take the time. The benefits will greatly outweigh the time it takes to reflect.