Last week I suggested that you don’t need an agenda, but should instead develop an amazing plan.
It was good advice. You should follow it.
There was, however, an important detail that I left out. Let’s suppose you put in the time and created what you thought was a rock-solid plan. Good for you. Now, how do you know it will work? The short answer is, “You don’t—but you can improve your odds.”
This is where the missing detail comes in handy. If you’re smart—and I know that you are—you’ll run your plan past some people to get their feedback.
Think of it like writing an email to a colleague. When you hit send, it looked great. Later you discovered it had typos, and the receiver misinterpreted what you wrote. This happens much too often.
It’s far easier for others to see your mistakes than it is for you to see your own. While reworking the plan is a pain, it’s much worse to have your meeting blow to pieces, especially when the trouble could have been prevented.
There are three groups of people who can provide useful feedback. Consider tapping any or all of these when putting together a meeting plan.
Most of us know to send out an agenda in advance. Usually it won’t include the how-to details, but as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. Since they won’t have them, they can’t recognize problems. That means no helpful suggestions for you.
I don’t think you should give everyone the full plan, but you should schedule a quick call with a couple of participants to talk through the agenda in more detail. Tell them what you are planning and solicit their feedback. This can be particularly helpful when done with the participants who are most likely to give you a hard time during the meeting.
What you do within the organization reflects on your manager. She has an interest in your success. Ask her for 15 minutes and run the plan past her. Tell her to point out any concerns or oversights. If her schedule is tight, email her your detailed meeting plan, and ask for ideas about how to strengthen it.
A neutral outsider
Talk to coworkers, a spouse, and friends. The less they know about the meeting, the better. Describe your plan and listen to their reactions. Because they aren’t familiar with the situation, they are more likely to ask some pretty basic questions. These are often the questions that uncover your plan’s flaws.
Another option is to ask me to review it. I’ve helped hundreds of clients plan tough meetings. If there’s a problem, I’ll see it. If there are questions you haven’t considered, I’ll ask them. Then you can tune your plan.
If you decide you want more help, I’m also available for agenda development. In either case, send me a note, and we’ll talk about your meeting plan.
Make it the best possible plan
Your plan might be good, but I’m betting it can be better. The trick is to get feedback during the development process. This will help you see what you’ve missed, and provide you with ideas to make it better.
Image credit: bark