How to handle an impromptu meeting

Meetings take time and effort to prepare for – but what do you do if you’re faced with an unexpected meeting?

The best laid plans can go to pot if you don’t get a chance to prepare. And in the busy business world, you can sometimes find yourself in a meeting without even knowing it.

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Here’s how to handle a variety of impromptu meeting scenarios:

In the corridor
The situation: You’re rushing from one place to the next, mind on one thing when a colleague or your boss stops you in the corridor and starts asking you about another project.

How to handle it: Try not to get drawn into a lengthy discussion and don’t commit to anything. If it’s really important, see if you can grab a room to sit down and talk it through. If not, organise a proper meeting at a specific time and date which will reassure them you’re not just fobbing them off. If it’s your boss, just be honest and say that you don’t have the details they need and will get back to them when you do.

A social situation
The situation:  You’ve switched your work brain off, have had a couple of drinks and are relaxing when a colleague stumbles across you and starts asking you about work-related stuff.

How to handle it: Try and divert the conversation away from work by asking about family, sports, why they are there etc. If they persist, don’t commit to anything – ask them to send an email when they get back in the office. Again, be honest – if you’ve had a beer or two let them know that now’s not the best time to discuss it. If you’re with friends, get them to come over and move the conversation away from work.

At an event
The situation: You’re at an industry conference or event and have a tight timetable of people to see. However, someone who you didn’t plan to see stops you for a meeting.

How to handle it: If it’s a potential client, try and squeeze them in for five minutes. The whole point of exhibitions and conferences is to connect with people so it’s a good idea to leave a few gaps in your schedule for such occasions. If time isn’t on your side, sit them down, get their details and the nature of their query and organise a meeting or call for later in the day or when you get back to the office.

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Short notice
The situation: You’re knee deep in paper work and have got deadlines to meet when your boss calls a quick meeting on a topic you’ve not prepared for.

How to handle it: Preparation is the key here. Always have something ready to present for any project you’re working on. If you really don’t have much to say, take plenty of notes in the meeting and follow up afterwards once you’ve had chance to go over them. It’s better to give a good idea after the meeting than a badly thought through one during the meeting.

 

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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