How to make your conversations even more effective.

Do you have PROMPT meetings?

Now, more than ever, we need to take time to prepare for our meetings.  Our electronic diaries become fully populated with appointments starting on the hour or half hour, giving us only the time it takes to leave one meeting and to click in to the next one to prepare ourselves and clear our mindset from the previous meeting.

Gone are the days of strolling from our desk to a meeting room or travelling to a different location to prepare mentally for the next meeting.  Hopefully these days will return, in some form.

I used to say to clients that this meeting preparation process takes as little time as washing our hands.  I know a client who took this literally and used to pop into the bathroom to wash his hands to consciously clear his mind and prepare for the next meeting!

To use this time effectively, I have developed a model to help me to prepare for meetings.  This model is called my meeting P.R.O.M.P.T.

Let me walk you through this ….

P stands for PERSON.  Who am I meeting?  What communication style do they prefer? Do they require the detail or are they happy to hear the bullet points?

Is small talk important to them or will it irritate them?

R stands for ROOM. Where is my meeting?  So this might seem obvious if we think of the physical environment only.  However let’s think about the importance of the environment – is it a private space? Could this meeting happen at someone else’s desk or do we need a private space?  Now what about the virtual world? – the same applies.  If the content of our meeting is private or sensitive, I should check that my colleague is comfortable to have this meeting in their space.  They may be in a house-share sitting at the kitchen table with their roommates and would not appreciate us discussing sensitive information. If in doubt, always check in with them ahead of the meeting.

O stands for OBJECTIVE.  So why am I having this meeting? Why am I bothering? This helps us to get clear on our objective and ensures that we cover it in the meeting.

M stands for MESSAGE. The easiest way to think about this is to ask myself – If they remember only one thing from this meeting what would that be?  This can help me to get to the very essence of the meeting.

P stands for PURPOSE. What purpose will they take away from our meeting which will encourage them to action what we have agreed?  This is about thinking about the situation from their point of view, and thinking about what is in it for them to action my message.

T stands for TIME. How long will this meeting take?  How long should I set aside for this meeting?  Because occasionally we can be time-poor, we can be guilty of squeezing a meeting into a gap in our diary.  If I find myself doing this – I ask myself, how important is this to the other party?  It helps me to give them the time and respect that they deserve.

Okay, so let’s look at an example ….

Mary wants to have a meeting with a team member to give them some feedback about how they interact with clients.

P Peter is quite shy so Mary will invest some time at the start of the meeting to settle them both into the conversation.

R Peter has a young family who are at home, so Mary will check in with Peter in advance that he is a private space if the meeting is virtual, or Mary will book a meeting room.

O Mary wants Peter to change how he interacts with clients.

M Client engagement is an important part of Peter’s role and this has the potential to hold him back from progression within the organization.

P Peter has a lot of potential to progress and Mary will support Peter in addressing this feedback.

T There is an opportunity for Mary to coach Peter today, so Mary should take this into account when putting this in her diary.

This process, as I said, takes a few minutes – a great investment of our time to ensure that our conversations are efficient and effective for all parties.

So next time you look have a meeting, take a breathe and consider “What’s my PROMPT for this meeting?”.

© John Lovett 2021