Monday, June 01, 2009

Soft Skills 101

I had a meeting this morning with my SVP that I was worried about because while I'm pretty good at the technical stuff, I'm fairly weak at packaging it up for consumption. But thanks to the coaching from J, the VP I've been working with on my current project, it went really well and I wanted to blog about it so as not to forget the lessons learned:

1. Pre-meeting, set the expectations: Send ahead an agenda via email outlining why you want to meet and what you want to cover in the meeting, along with any pre-read materials.

2. In the meeting, set the scene: Re-cap why you're meeting, what you'd like to cover and how you'd like to do it - I typically dive right into the subject at hand without setting up the context, mistakenly assuming that everyone else is on the same page as me. The truth though, is that everyone else has at least a dozen other things on the go, senior executives even moreso, so it's really important to make sure the people present all understand the purpose of the meeting and what you want to accomplish. If possible, bring along a summary to guide the discussion - this could be the pre-read material, but not necessarily.

3. Ask for clarification: If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to put your hand up and say so.

4. You don't have to have all the answers: If something comes up that you don't have an answer to, it's OK to say, "Let me look into that and get back to you."

5. Review the next steps: At the end of the meeting, play-back the next steps and the decisions made to make sure everyone's in agreement as to what's been decided and what's left to-do.

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