This post is an excerpt from the PR Account Manager's Handbook. Click here to download the entire series as an ebook. By @TopLineFounder.
The better prepared you are for a meeting, the better your chance of being able to control the meeting. This is critical in terms of gaining credibility in front of the client (or whoever you are meeting).Your confidence will be closely affected by how well prepared you are, so it is critical that you do not leave this to the last minute. As the account manager,a successful or unsuccessful meeting is ultimately your responsibility, so make sure every task you delegate is being handled to your satisfaction – you cannot blame a poor meeting on anyone but yourself. Here are my ten steps to a successful meeting:
Think carefully about:
What information do you know about these people? Do they like formal, drawn-out meetings? Or do they like you to cut to the chase? What impresses them? Getting back to them quickly after a meeting with action points? Or would they be more impressed by beautifully formatted minutes?
Once you have made this decision, use it to tailor the meeting accordingly. It should inform how you dress, what time you arrive and how you handle the meeting.
Depending on the audience, you need to decide how detailed this will be and in what format it should be presented. If your attendees are always on the move, reading this on their smartphones, then you want to send it in the body of the email.
Never add points to the agenda for the sake of it – make sure you are comprehensive but only add things that will be of value.
Get the agenda to the right people ahead of the meeting and ask them to provide feedback or details of anything they want added to the agenda.
For every point on the agenda:
Make sure you have clearly delegated this in writing to your team members and followed up until you are confident it is being done.
Ensure that anything that needs to be printed, is printed and ready to go three hours before you have to leave for the meeting. Assume that the printer is going to cause problems and make sure that whoever is responsible is on it.
If you are taking a computer, ensure you have the passwords to access it, a spare charger, that the screen is clean and that you have checked in advance whether you will have a projector and what inputs it requires. I get so annoyed when I get to a meeting and a colleague cannot get the technology to work. It makes us look like amateurs. Only made worse when they turn the computer around to show the client something and the screen is filthy, and you know everyone around the table is secretly wondering whether they've been watching Spankwire on their laptop.
Conduct background research on everyone who is attending. What are their hobbies? What have they done in the past? What mutual contacts do you have on LinkedIn? What small talk can you make at the start of the meeting? Run a quick Factiva search on them or on their industry beforehand to make sure you are not caught off guard when they congratulate you on the rugby or refer to a big story that broke this morning that you as the comms pro obviously know about.
If someone is likely to be difficult, or you have no idea what their feedback will be, have an informal call with them before the meeting so that they don’t use the meeting to drag you down in front of everyone else. Rather, get their feedback in advance and tailor your response to suit. If they're aggressive or mean in the meeting then they're a twat.
Either the day before or a few hours before confirm in a quick email.
Make sure it is clear that you don’t need a response from them. So send an email that says ‘Look forward to seeing you at your offices at 10am tomorrow.' That way you avoid awkward misunderstandings that will ultimately be blamed on you (whether you are to blame or not - you're the account manager!).
Don’t be more than 10 minutes early – it’s annoying.
Give people information on how you are getting there. So, if you are catching a train let people know in advance that you will be coming by train and that you are scheduled to arrive at 09:55. That way, if you are late and cannot get hold of them, they can check the train schedule.
If you are going to be late, keep the other participants informed throughout. If your train is delayed, send an email, and keep sending updates as you get them.
Do this quickly. If you can’t get your meeting notes to them within 24 hours, send them a holding email, saying ‘good to meet you, we will have action points with you by tomorrow'
Hungry for more? Download the Account Manager's Handbook in its entirety by clicking here.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.
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