• Pre-meetings are the meetings before the main meeting
  • Use pre-meetings to get all of the prep done and fix any issues
  • Integrate pre-meetings into your workflow to boost success
It’s been a fucking crazy week as usual and you’re rushing through several last-minute items for your upcoming meeting that you’ll be hosting and leading.

With only an hour to go, you quickly realize that there are some key things that you still haven’t gotten confirmation on. Getting what you need from unresponsive coworkers is like pulling teeth.

Without these key updates, the meeting will be pretty much pointless for everybody. And, you don’t want to be known for calling stupid meetings that are just a waste of time.

However, you can’t just cancel the meeting so you go ahead with it anyway and explain to the group what little new information you have.

The group gets restless and asks more questions on a bunch of outstanding items that you don’t have answers to.

Why you don’t have these answers?

Because the key subject matter experts that are fucking supposed to be there to support you haven’t even joined the meeting.

Now, you’re on your own, trying to figure all of this shit out and dodging bullets Matrix style.

You feel stupid, useless and embarassed.

You close out the meeting and promise the group that you’ll have all the answers at the next session.

With your tail between your legs, you head back to your desk and hope that you’ll have your shit together next time.

What you really needed to do here is to have a pre-meeting with all the key contributors so that everything that needs to get done is completed and ready for the main meeting on time.

What Is A Pre-Meeting Anyways?

Meetings have developed such a bad reputation of being ultimate time sucks. There are countless meetings and boring conference calls that you’ve been invited to that have nothing to do with you or your work, but you’ve gotta attend for one reason or another.

Why would you want to spend any more of your valuable time in pre-meetings?

You may not be aware of this term, but you know what it is. Every office slave does.

Pre-meetings are the meetings before the meeting. They are held ahead of the main session. It's not important for what it is, but rather for what it does - getting everything lined up and ready for the main event.

This ensures that the meeting will be productive for all attendees and more importantly, it’ll help you keep momentum and move your projects forward another step.

The Purpose And Importance Of Pre-Meetings

Premeetings are a necessary evil for any business. Bad ones are a time suck that everyone hates, but good ones that are well organized and planned can be the springboard to really make big progress and take things to the next level.

While you may not think of pre-meetings as a way to kickstart your day, they can actually help you and your colleagues be more productive.

Here are some of the key reasons why.

1. Planning Out The Agenda

There’s nothing worse than being in a meeting where there’s no clear objective or purpose. The conversations are all over the place. It’s like one giant chaotic clusterfuck.

You can avoid this by having a pre-meeting with your boss and/or other key members beforehand. Set up a short 30-minute meeting to establish what the agenda and purpose of the upcoming meeting should be.

Get agreement from everyone, including the PITA coworkers and be sure that nothing’s left out, but at the same time, keep the focus tight on the main goals. Don’t let the meeting agenda become a catch-all for all topics.

2. Getting Everyone On The Same Page

When the entire team is all “singing the same tune” and each person is doing their part to move things forward toward the agreed objectives, then it makes things a whole lot easier.

It’s inevitable that you’ll have internal disagreements and have to deal with arguments because not everyone will have the same perspective as you. And it’s nothing personal. Usually, it’s driven by each person’s roles and responsibilities and they want to make sure that their shit is taken care of too.

So, use pre-meetings to get these differences ironed out before the main event. This way, there won’t be any time-wasting disagreements during the main meeting.

3. Identifying And Assigning Tasks 

You’re probably handling the majority of the tasks since you’re leading the meeting. However, there are other stakeholders too and you can’t be responsible for their items.

You’ve got enough shit on your plate and you shouldn’t be working through lunch every damn day.

You need to identify and assign any specific tasks that these other people need to deliver on as part of the main meeting. Get their commitment with due dates. Leave a bit of a buffer too just in case you need to make any adjustments.

4. Strategizing Options 

When you’re preparing for a big decisional and/or directional meeting, particularly with executives or external customers and clients, you need to think about and develop all of the possible options ahead of time.

Work with the team to get all of the ideas and/or choices out on the table beforehand. This not only helps you be more thorough, but also shows that you’ve done your due diligence.

This kind of prep will be seen by others and it’ll up your personal brand and rep at the office.

5. Forecasting Possible Outcomes

It’s always good to plan for what you think will happen ahead of time. Yes, there will be times when something comes out of nowhere, but for the most part, you should have a pretty good idea of what’s most likely to happen.

Reviewing these possible outcomes with the team and/or your manager will help you avoid being caught off-guard and stop putting out fires. The more you know, the better off you’ll be.

So, think through and predict what all of the possible outcomes could be from the meeting and plan around that.

6. Internal Negotiations On Agreements

When your project is about a contract or agreement, there will always be pre-meetings no matter what. It’s mandatory.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you and your team are having internal negotiations in front of the other party. It’ll make you guys look disjointed, unprofessional and unprepared.

You need to get all of the internal shit sorted out and agreed to before you ever meet with the other party. Otherwise, it’ll end up in disaster with a huge blamestorming session.

7. Rehearsing The Presentation

Ever been in meetings where nothing’s ready, presenters are unprepared and things are just messy?

It’s a huge fucking waste of time for everybody including you.

Don’t end up in this scenario.

Get everything dialed in beforehand. In fact, it’s a really good idea to have a pre-meeting rehearsal so that everyone and everything can be “stress-tested” prior to the actual session.

This includes all of the content and presenters. And very importantly, the tech because we all know that there’s always some kind of tech issue, whether it’s not having the right software, connection, screen set-up etc.

Get these things sorted out during the rehearsal and you won’t lose your shit the day of the meeting.

8. Brainstorming Ideas Ahead Of Time

Ya’ know when a presenter or meeting host asks for audience comments or contributions?

It’s always crickets for the first few minutes.

However, when that first person raises their hand and makes a comment contribution, it opens the way for others to do the same. Soon enough, more people start chiming in.

To help expedite this, have some ideas ready to go and throw them out there to the audience to get the gears in their head turning. Work with the team to generate the ideas from all angles and document them for the meeting.

Be sure to take better notes to capture everything.

9. Confirming Each Person Role 

It’s always prudent to know what each person’s roles and responsibilities are for the project and specifically, for the upcoming meeting.

You want to be sure that they will be handling the shit that they’re responsible for. And conversely, you want to make sure that nobody is overstepping their bounds into other people’s areas. This includes you too.

It’s the whole office politics drama thing. You want to minimize this as much as possible.

When everybody knows what their role is for this meeting and they stick with it, it’ll minimize the potential for friction or conflicts.

10. Organizing External Items

Pre-meetings aren’t just for internal purposes. They are also critical for organizing and prepping all of the external contributors as well.

Large projects that require the support of external stakeholders, suppliers, partners, etc. create a lot of moving parts. And when you’ve got a lot of things happening simultaneously, you gotta stay on top of all of it so that nobody drops the ball and that nothing falls through the cracks.

Periodic pre-meeting check-ins are a must-do. This will make sure that you’re keeping track of everything and it’ll also force others to keep up and deliver on their tasks.

Embrace Pre-Meetings And Up Your Game

Meetings can be the bane of most people’s office existence. And pre-meetings can even be worse. But, you can’t think of it that way. You gotta see it as a way to make your office life easier and more productive.

Premeetings are like the foundation of a building. Every structure needs one. And if it’s weak, the building’s not gonna have a solid base to build upon.

Pre-meetings give you that solid foundation to ensure that the main meeting goes smoothly without any issues. And, when you get in the habit of using pre-meetings to get all of your prep done, you’ll be bringing your A-game all the time, every time.

Make pre-meetings part of your workflow to get in the zone and get shit done.

It’s time to embrace the pre-meeting and take your work to the next level.

Feel Better,

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