As early-stage investors, we spend a significant bulk of our time (~30%) meeting and learning from founders. We have summarized below our thoughts which have helped us make meetings more effective for all participants. Note that although the below views are largely written in the context of pitch meetings, we believe these practices can be employed across the entire spectrum of discussions:
Set an Agenda with planned timelines
While setting an agenda appears clichéd, the tendency of speakers is to get straight into discussions about the business/ idea. Very often, this results in an unstructured meeting where we end up understanding too much about a particular aspect of the business and making little ground on others. Developing and defining a broad agenda especially with a planned time frame at the outset enables the speaker to maintain an inherent discipline during his discussion and encapsulate all points of priority in a concise manner. More importantly, the speaker receives a buy-in from the audience and can gauge their expectations as well. Budgeting for a spare 5- 10 minutes to allow for some spill-over questions is always a plus!
Present a summary deck not the entire presentation!
‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’ – Albert Einstein.
Einstein’s famous words should serve as a barometer whilst presenting during a meeting. Whilst communicating with a deck certainly provides a framework for the discussion, cramming it with explanations and minutiae tends to distract the audience. A concise deck also does not result in giving the impression that the presenter is simply reading from the screen. Send a detailed deck separately if you must but use a summary version or the very least select slides for the meeting. The best communicators always explain more with less!
Writing down quick and precise notes is a skill not recognized by many of us. We tend to over-estimate our memory and power of recall – resulting in important bits of the discussion not being recorded. Especially, in virtual meetings, notes ensure that everyone in the meeting group is on the same page. Like with any other skill, making notes appears lengthy and unnecessary at first however is certainly a life-saver once mastered correctly. A good practical tip is to send out a short summary on the meeting post every meeting for feedback.
Summarize the calls and end with a CTA
The importance of summarizing the discussion cannot be overstated; it is the must-have dessert after a good meal! A succinct rundown of the discussed points helps listeners understand the bigger picture – a key trade secret here is that this allows the speaker to control the narrative of the discussion. Ending the discussion with a clear call to action (CTA) ensures clarity on the next steps. A precise summary with a CTA plan is often the tipping point of a decision!
We would love your thoughts on making meetings more efficient.