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LIV President's Blog 2012

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How to bluff your way through meetings

How to bluff your way through meetings

At least once in your stellar career, you will find yourself under prepared for a meeting. Of course, your reason is quite plausible and nothing to do with laziness or procrastination! The trick to ensuring that you don’t look like you haven’t prepared is twofold: it is how you use the 15 minutes before the meeting and how you conduct yourself in the meeting.  

15 minutes before the meeting

  • At this point you need to acknowledge that you are not prepared and forget about being perfect. This is the time to memorise the core points relating to meeting:  who, what, when, where and why.
  • If the meeting is across town, get going now. Use your smart phone to help you do the rest of the prep en route.
  • Next, think about the goal of the meeting. You can usually find clues in two places: the title of the meeting in your calendar and one of the concluding sentences of the first email that proposed it. Concentrating on the desired outcomes will help you focus your thoughts and speaking points.
  • Write anything down that comes to mind. If you are doing your preparation at the last minute, you will need to pay close attention to the discussion in the meeting to help bring yourself up to speed. Your notes will help you recollect your thoughts, and make you look as though you have prepared.
  • If this is a follow up meeting, read your last set of notes and make sure you know about any action items and follow-ups that were allocated to you and any progress since the last meeting.
  • Think of a topical anecdote, story or news event for when you first arrive – breaking the ice helps everyone, including you, relax a little.

5 minutes before the meeting

  • Take a breath. Take 10 breaths.
  • If the meeting is internal, get going – no one likes a latecomer.

At the meeting

  • Listen! And that means you need to actively listen.
  • Don’t talk for the sake of talking. We all know what it’s like to attend meetings that could have achieved the same outcome in a five-minute phone conversation or a simple email. If you are going speak, make sure you stick to your key points that address the goal of the meeting and do not stray.
  • Don’t contribute those “insta-thoughts” – you know, the ones that just pop into your head. Offering an idea that isn’t well thought out or has already been canvassed will reveal your lack of preparation. Write it down and email later, once you have checked it is on point.
  • Take notes.

Follow these tips and you’ll survive the meeting without anyone knowing how much preparation you have – or haven’t – done.

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Bernadette Johnston
I would really like to see a section in this article about fessing up to your principal that you had forgotten. If it is an admin meeting, it might be able to be postponed and might save everyone a lot of time to know who is up to speed and having a team member waste my time drives me nuts. If it is a client meeting, it might be that they will "have your back" and can protect you in the meeting (although they won't be happy about it), they won't bill the client for the unprepared lawyer's attendance (which has ethical ramifications in my view) and they will believe you next time you say you have actually prepared. Practising Law is about getting an outcome through teamwork, not by some underhand individual getting away with things to save their own skin. Tips on how to be deceptive are not really what I want to have young lawyers read. We have enough ethical issues as it is - we are dealing with other people's lives and issues and it is not a game.
11/08/2015 3:41:08 PM

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