gunfightHave you ever seen John Wayne or Clint Eastwood walk into a gun fight without preparation of what was to come? Without doing some background investigating? Or even just going in without fully loaded weapons ready to fire?…So why is it that so many of us as managers and business owners feel that we are able to walk into a business meeting, strategy session or a potentially hostile workplace environment without being prepared for what we were about to do…?

All too often we approach meetings in a too relaxed and blasé fashion. Often, it is because we feel that we already know the other participants and are comfortable enough to just go with the flow and do what we feel is natural in the meeting. Further, there is often overconfidence in our own ability in that we feel we will be able to achieve the desired outcome with little or no preparation and this is a major error that many people mistakenly complete during meetings and important business negotiations.

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In the world of school teaching, they are referred to as ‘door handle lessons.’ That is where the teacher has been too busy to prepare a lesson or feels they are good enough to walk in without any preparation and conduct the lesson for the students ‘off the cuff’.  The only thought and preparation for that next engagement of learning for their student occurs as they open the door and enter the classroom. This in many respects is not really much different to how most people approach their business meetings – lack of planning time, lack of credit given to the importance of the meeting or just plain overconfidence and in some cases, a touch of arrogance. Whatever the reason, the result will rarely be what the participant is aiming for.

To avoid this, make sure you take every opportunity to prepare adequately for every meeting or presentation. Being confident from knowing how you want to speak, what you want to present and having the appropriate background information to ensure you get the best outcome from the situation is absolute paramount to your overall success. Even knowing the little things such as the first name of the participants attending the meeting or something more personal about their own interests, family or current work climate will help to break the ice and put them in a much more positive frame of mind.