Having good meetings

09 Feb 2021


Something we all struggle with. Not just you. Also me. Our intention behind meetings is to always crush it and leave an intention. But how do we know if we've actually done that?

I had the opportunity last week to meet with Shreyas Kousik, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford. It was probably one of my most favourite meetings. I don't know if I landed an impression but he definitely did. I loved the meeting. I walked out feeling extremely happy and satisfied with it.

I'm gonna be talking about how to have a good meeting, inspired by How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie.

Ask good, meaningful questions

You've heard this 500 times, I have as well. Asking good questions is 🔑. Good questions = good meetings = good impressions. But how do you ask meaningful questions? How do you ask questions that spark genuine interest?

The answer is relatively simple. Confidence + listening. Let's break that down.

Confidence

You gotta be confident when asking questions. I always used to say "um" and "and" and whatnot. Cut that out. It makes you look stupid. Give yourself a moment to pause and think. It feels weird but it doesn't feel wrong. Don't laugh when pausing. I make that mistake really often. Just take a moment, pause, think about what you want to say, and then say it. Even if it's a bad question, as long as you say the question with confidence, it will be treated a lot more seriously than saying it with fillers.

Show boss mentality. Even if you don't know what they're talking about, be confident and make the effort to understand. A lot of things you don't know about can simply be understood if you were to just listen.

Listen

Listen to what they say. I don't mean to write down notes or do something else when chatting, literally just stare at them and make them your only focus. People like attention. People like it when they're allowed to talk about themselves and you give them their undivided attention. Give them the attention that they want, make them feel good about themselves.

The easiest way to do that is by listening to whatever they say. It makes the other person feel good, you give them a sense of pride and respect. That's the simplest way to make an impression. Because you're able to make them feel good about themselves, they'll also indirectly cherish you and make you feel really good about yourself as well.

This is also exactly how you ask good questions. All good questions come from a matter of understanding and listening to what they say.

Don't Prolong

Don't make meetings longer than they should be and prolong it with unnecessary questions. Something I used to do which resulted in more harm than help.

If you have meetings that are booked for 30mins and you get all your questions answered in 15, then just end the meeting. You've got the answers you need, why spend more time there?

Calendar reminders

Small thing but always make sure that you have some sort of calendar reminder on. Missing a meeting can completely damage the existing reputation that you have. Don't mess up. Use calendar notifications, alarms, your parents, whatever. Just make sure that you get the meeting and don't arrive late.

Also, arrive 5 minutes early for a meeting. 5 minutes sounds insane but it can really build up your reputation. Arriving at the meet extremely early and then having them come late makes a really good impression on you.

Follow up

Once the meeting is done, it isn't. Always send follow up emails and always try to get into their network. I once got a meeting with a super legit dude but never followed up with him. Don't make that mistake. Always follow up with people even after your meeting. Not only do you develop a good reputation but you can also potentially get some pretty sweet stuff from them.

Other general tips

You booked the meeting. Make the most out of it. Genuine interest in the topic and work gets you already 90% of the way. The other 10% is asking the right questions. How to ask the right questions?

Figure it out. What questions do you get the most value from? Cut out stupid questions. Questions such as "who will reach lvl 5 autonomy?" isn't a good question. Remember, you landed the meeting because of the impression you've made. Don't ruin it by simply asking questions like these. Come with good, technical questions.