5 Ways to Prep for a Daunting Meeting

It’s hard to get out of bed when you’ve got intimidating meetings on the calendar. What to do? With a little intention, you’ll find ease in your discomfort.

1. Look that meeting in the eye.

Rolling right into a stressful conversation without any prep only makes things worse. Why is this particular meeting daunting? (Daunting might mean anxious, afraid or even a version of excited.) Is it due to the people involved? The topic at hand? Decisions to be made?

There really are no wrong answers; merely taking five minutes to acknowledge the stress allows some fresh air in. Frankly, even just reading this blog post counts!

2. Set a meeting goal – for YOU.

This is particularly helpful for folks who aren’t leading the agenda but relevant for everyone. You can’t control the outcome of the meeting but you can control your goal going into it. What would make it a successful meeting for you? Speaking up two times? Delivering the hard feedback out loud? Leaving with takeaways?

It’s always doable to look back and say: yes, I did accomplish my goal, even if the rest of the meeting was challenging. So name it! And then get it done.

(Side note: this is a sneaky way to make progress on your own career goals, despite the environment. Your goals can always be independent of the greater context.)

3. Build (or imagine) the agenda.

If you have control of the agenda, make one that’s short and sweet. Let’s take delivering critical feedback as an example. Below is a simple agenda along with beginner sentences (obviously you’re not a robot, so say things with your own style, tone and content!)

1. Welcome.

How’s Monday going so far? I’m glad we have a little time today to unpack the feedback I sent over last week.

2. Goals.

My goal for today is to share the feedback verbally, discuss it together and for both of us to leave with next steps. Do you have a goal that we should keep mind today?

3. Feedback sharing.

Let’s start with the first comment in the doc. I’ve noticed that… (Etc. for the rest of the notes)

4. Round up & next steps.

So it sounds like you’re in agreement that these two are issues you’d like to work on. Let’s name two next steps for you to focus on this week.

5. Appreciation.

I’m glad we had this conversation. I appreciate when we’re able to openly talk about how the work is going and I’m looking forward to checking in next week to see how things progress.

4. Open field vs. conference room perspective.

Conference rooms are small and confining. As you make your way to the meeting, picture something that’s got possibility and less limitations. An open field? A blank canvas? A full fridge?

Remember: the meeting hasn’t happened yet and there are no foregone conclusions. Enter in with an expansive perspective.

5. Get a glass of water.

Water always helps, physically and mentally. Not sure what to say next? Take a sip. About to launch into the main point? Take a sip.

What other wisdom have you learned about your body in times of stress? Would it help to pet your dog, take a short walk, get some fresh air? Only you know! Use it all to your own benefit.

Geez, work can be hard, can’t it? The good news is that difficult meetings are like anything else: the more you practice, the more muscle you’ll build. Take a breath, remember your wisest self and head in. There’s no cooler power move than acting like you’ve been looking forward to this meeting all along.

Now go get ’em!