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Preparation is the key to getting the most out of meetings and making yourself look good. I’m sure you run through all of your deliverables and make sure you’re already. As a manager often times you’ll rely on your team to bring key items to a meeting outside your team. You’ll even check in with them to make sure they are “ready”. But that’s not enough.
The problem arises when a staff member misunderstands their assignment and then you’re at a meeting faced with a choice of defending/explaining your staff even though he is wrong or having your employee (and you by extension) look bad.
The best solution is not getting into that position. Schedule a premeeting to go over the deliverables. Be sure you schedule it so you have enough time to react to any issues that may come up. The premeeting can even help you because perhaps your staff may have gotten it right but you didn’t. Do this for simple tasks also. The meeting can (should) be short. You don’t need to go over every inch of the presentation (though if it’s being presented to clients/key personnel you should), just enough to make sure you’re all on the same page.
photo credit: David Boyle in DC