Agenda vs. Objective: Why Your Customer Meeting Needs Both
You'll hear most people make the recommendation that every meeting, especially customer meetings, should have a clear meeting agenda, and yes, it should, but it should also have a clear objective as well.
Think about going into a meeting with your customer and not only have a clear overview of WHAT you will discuss but also have a clear understanding of WHY you are discussing those items. Having a clear agenda and objective helps frame the conversation giving it clear purpose and focus.
So let's break it down, starting with the agenda first.
We've already established that yes, every meeting should have an agenda, and this agenda should outline all of the main talking points for the meeting. These don't need to be complete sentences and do not need to lead the attendees, in fact they should be short and concise.
Agendas help set expectations and allow attendees to adequately prepare. There is nothing worse then going to a meeting and not knowing what you'll be covering, only to be asked to address items you weren't prepared to cover - complete waste of time and horrible experience for everyone involved.
Everyone is so busy running from one meeting to the next, and it's not uncommon for folks to have to prioritize where their time is being spent. In many cases, a meeting with no clear agenda or understanding of value, will be the first to go when people need to free up time in their day. Make sure that everyone involved understands why they need to be there and what they will get out of it.
Ok, so the objective. Hopefully by now I have convinced you that you should have a clear objective for your meeting as well as an agenda, but if not let me land these few points. If the objective is the why, they this will help ensure everyone understands what they will get from the discussion, and if you are focused on value based engagement with customers (and your teams) then this should make it crystal clear that they need to attend.
Objectives also help keep the meeting focused. We've all been part of a discussion that feels like a runaway train - someone brings something up and all of a sudden we are down a rabbit hole having a very different conversation then we attended. If you have an objective, it's super easy to get everyone back to the topics at hand and to focus. You can park those other ideas for another time, but for this meeting we need to stay on track if we are to achieve X. Very few people will refute that and you'll get your meeting back. Score1 for productivity.
So next time you are planning your next customer meeting, take a few minutes and put together these two very important elements - Agenda and Objective. I guarantee you will see the following:
1) Higher engagement and less cancelled meetings
2) Greater participation due to preparation and clear expectations
3) Appreciation for value and time consciousness