As the oft-repeated saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying this, as is Winston Churchill, but regardless of who said it first, it’s true. Being prepared is one of the best ways to give yourself an advantage in the business world, and failing to prepare is one of the best ways to undermine yourself. This is especially true in regard to meetings with clients, colleagues, and bosses. This is the tenth of a 10-part series about things you can do to help your career in business meetings.
Benefits of being prepared for meetings
If you ever had the dream where you showed up to school without wearing clothes, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. One question from your boss during a meeting is all that it takes to reveal whether you’re prepared or not, so it’s easy to be “caught with your pants down.” Besides avoiding this embarrassing and potentially damaging situation, here are some of the reasons why it’s good to be prepared for meetings:
- Demonstrating your professionalism – Being prepared shows that you’re a professional who’s committed to doing the best job you can, whereas being unprepared sends the message that you’re unconcerned about your responsibilities.
- Having the tools to achieve success – Being prepared gives you the ability to bring about positive outcomes during meetings, whereas being unprepared doesn’t help at all and can even prevent success from happening.
- Winning the support of others – Being prepared communicates to others that you’re credible, trustworthy, and effective, thus making them more likely to support you. Being unprepared has the opposite effect and makes people less likely to take your side when it matters.
How to ensure that you’re prepared for meetings
It may seem a little daunting to feel like you need to be ready for anything that can happen during a meeting. However, if you keep these things in mind, then you can give yourself the best chance to be as prepared as possible before any meeting:
- Clearly define and understand the objective – Meetings generally occur for a specific reason, so if you base your preparation on the goals of the meeting, then you’ll be more likely to have what you need to succeed.
- Anticipate what will be discussed – Thinking about the topic of the meeting and considering what you might say will ensure that you won’t stutter or stammer when you’re called upon to speak.
- Consider the feelings of others – Everyone’s perspective matters even if it’s in conflict with yours, so empathizing with the people in the meeting will allow you to prevent or mitigate conflict before it occurs or becomes serious.
Preparation will help you succeed in business and in life, and all it takes is a little energy and forethought. By contrast, the consequences of being unprepared can be costly and even permanent. A little preparation goes a long way as they say, and it requires absolutely zero talent to achieve.