Successful Meetings: Make Everyone Smarter Than You

If the meeting you are hosting is a discovery meeting, then there is one very simple rule to live by:

Everyone is smarter than you.

This is one of my favorite bits of advice because of how true it is, but we often forget it.  There is this undercurrent of pride in setting up a meeting: “i’m in charge,” “i know what needs to happen here,” “i have the research,” or “i have the agenda.”  As soon as the meeting starts, however, there should be a not-so-shocking discovery: there are other people in the room with you.

And everyone in that room, for the remainder of that meeting, is smarter than you.

How do I know that?  Because you invited them.  Your brilliance, your shining wisdom, your skill was bringing the right people to the table.  Now let them talk.

If the people in that room aren’t smarter than you, then you picked the wrong people to be in the room.  Shame on you.  And this makes them smarter than you; they’re going to get credit for working on a project that they aren’t going to need to effectively contribute to, because they aren’t the smartest people in the room.

The key to leading the discovery meeting isn’t about sharing your ideas, it’s about aquiring other people’s thoughts.  Give them the chance to contribute.  Your hard work comes after the meeting, sifting through the myriad ideas and suggestions to create something out of concept.

If you get the right people in the room, they really should be smarter than you.  They should be experts in their field.  There should be a reason you brought them to the table; some skill or knowledge or connection that you don’t personally have.  Otherwise, why call the meeting at all?

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