What is the Purpose of Pre and Post Meetings?
Have you ever noticed that some meeting attendees seem to already be on the same page before they came to the meeting? This isn’t by accident: it’s by design.
When the meeting is to being held to have the group decide on a topic – particularly if it’s a contentious issue -- sometimes it pays to meet with key players prior to your meeting. You might want to have these “pre-meetings” so that you can:
Address potential roadblocks to your project’s success
Gain historical context about a problem or unique knowledge from a subject matter expert
Understand key influencers’ positions, and how they might influence or sway others during the discussion.
This isn’t about politics (although this can be seen as a political move). This is about starting the process for buy-in as well as identifying issues in advance of your meeting so that your time will be well spent during your meeting!
The “meeting after the meeting” can at times be even more important than the actual “meeting” itself. For example, a meeting organizer might have a “meeting after the meeting” with another participant to discuss:
How the meeting ran? Was it productive?
Observations of group dynamics or challenges
Confirmation of agreements, commitments to deliverables etc.
Next steps to ensure continued buy-in or to determine if additional solicitation is needed.
However, in some organizations, the “meeting after the meeting” is the symptom of a passive-aggressive organizational culture: the “public” decisions are made or input is solicited in the meeting – but the “real” decisions are made in “the meeting after the meeting.”
In this case, it’s important to know why you are meeting after the meeting: is it to continue trying to move forward productively? Is it to undo everything that was just “decided?” to complain about what just happened? Or does your organizational culture encourage people to speak up honestly during meetings?
Pre and Post meetings can be useful mechanisms for making your meeting time productive – but only if they’re held for the right reasons. Otherwise, they may be indicative of problematic issues in your organizational culture.