Communication with Power and Impact blog #1: Meetings

What does the word inspire in your thoughts? Do you feel ‘heard’ in meetings? Are your meetings productive? Are meetings a source of frustration for you? In all ECWO programmes – communication, negotiations, networking - the word ‘’meeting’’ comes up regularly. And then the group discussion takes off. Everyone has a frustration to voice, an opinion to share, a story to tell. Whether the meeting is formal or informal, virtual or in-person, or between peers or in a hierarchy, meetings seem to be a looking glass into company culture and gender dynamics. We’ve heard it all – the good, the bad, the ugly.

So perhaps it’s worth thinking about meetings and your influence on and in them and how your participation in meetings is influencing your career.

Each month I’ll write about one aspect of meetings. I’ll ask the questions to provoke the discussion – you dive into the debate in the comments section below to share your experiences, stories, insights, and tips for turning your meetings from horror movie to love story.

Dianne often says ‘you’ve got to play the game’. Shakespeare wrote ‘’all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’’. So take a bit of distance from yourself, your colleagues, and your organisation and look at the communication dynamics as though you are all in a play. How is the scene set? Who are the players? How are you contributing/reacting to the communication dynamics?

Ready? The first blog isn’t about the meeting. It’s about everything that happens (and should be happening) before the meeting.


No meeting takes place in a vacuum. Most of the time, the players in a meeting already know each other. Someone asked for the meeting. Someone has an objective in holding the meeting – some objectives may be transparent and others hidden. Before you head into a meeting, ask yourself:

• Who asked for the meeting and why? 
• What are the objectives of the meeting? 
• Some objectives are immediate (taking a clear decision) while others are longer term (developing strategy or toward goals) and yet others are inherently political (giving a public ‘voice’ to opinions – whether they will be taken into consideration or not – or creating consensus/showing alliances). Are you aware of the objectives of crucial players in the meeting? What are your objectives? 
• What has been discussed (between who) around these objectives before the meeting already started? Which players have already started building alliances?

Have you ever arrived at a meeting that you thought was being held for one reason but turned out had an entirely different tone? How has your approach to preparing for a meeting changed over the years? How much political landscape mapping do you do before you go into a meeting?

Dory Grandia 
ECWO Communication with Power and Impact Faculty

ECWO Storytelling