Now every meeting is of course different, but I have found that there is, or should be a template to follow so things go smoothly and the meeting leads to something tangible.
Here are the four components every business meeting should have if you want it to lead somewhere.
1. Tell me what we are here to talk about.
This happened to me just yesterday. There I was in a meeting I booked two months ago. I prepared myself for the meeting and made sure I knew who I was meeting and who introduced us. The thing is, I wasn't sure what the topic was but I assumed the person would explain in the beginning of the meeting. Boy, was I wrong.
The person I was meeting starting the meeting going into the most minute details of his product and here I am wondering what we are even talking about. Do you want to ask me about marketing? Do you want my thoughts on the market in general? Are we here to speak about investors?
Start the meeting by framing it. "Hey, great to meet you and thanks for finding the time. I would love to speak to you about my idea and see if you think it has legs." or :"I am raising money and I would like your take on how much I should raise and from whom.:"
Once you framed the meeting, now we can get started because we both know what we are here to talk about.
2. Specify the challenge or how I can help.
Once we established the general topic, let's go one step deeper and specify exactly what your ask is. What do you hope to accomplish today? What is the goal of this meeting with regards to your current challenges.
"I would like to tell you about my startup and I hope maybe if you like it, you will be inclined to introduce me to relevant investors."
Be specific, be transparent, align expectations, and everyone leaves happy.
3. Give me some more detail.
Ok, now I am ready for the details, the meat of the meeting. If the topic is telling me about your startup and the ask is investor introductions, now is when you tell me what you are building, how big the market is, and what your primary challenges are, along with the current stage of your company.
Once you framed the conversation, I am ready to get into the nitty gritty, which I was not prepared for before this step.
This part of the meeting should last for about half the allocated time. After all, it is the main part of the meeting.
4. Let's leave with a concrete action item.
This might be the most important part of every meeting and also, the part most often forgotten. Don't end the meeting with "Great to meet you, have an awesome day", because you and the person you are meeting will both go back to your respective offices and basically forget everything you talked about.
Leave the meeting with a clear action item. Make sure the owner of the action item is clear, meaning, who has to do what. So if the topic is investor introductions, and you agree that you will do the research of who is a relevant investor for you, make sure to end the meeting with specific instructions on how to send those names and by when.
If you want to make sure the meeting leads somewhere, send a summary after the meeting putting all your action items into writing. That way you avoid misunderstandings and make sure everything is clear.
Business meetings are easy but effective business meetings are not. Make sure your meetings have all four of these components so they don't end up becoming a massive waste of your very precious time!