I happened to be rummaging through a colleague’s desk not too long ago (with permission!).
I came across a notecard that had a name, date, some niceties, and random topics on it. After I’d seen 4 or 5 of these cards, I realized they were my colleague's way of reminding himself what he wanted to accomplish in a given interaction.
I smiled to myself. This guy is a nice, somewhat irreverent, confident gentleman. I would have assumed he strolled into most meetings and automatically fell into normal chit-chat, knew which high points he had to hit, and moved on.
As it turns out, he was intentional when he went into meetings. He wrote down the person’s name, some personal details (their spouse’s name, hometown, or favorite sports team), and the topics he wanted to cover.
I’ve been to a number of meetings with this colleague and never saw him pull out a notecard. With just the simple act of writing these things down, he was much more effective in meetings by building personal bonds with people and knowing what business he wanted to complete.
This memory came back to me a few weeks ago when I - not once, but twice - walked into meetings that I knew I was having, and totally blanked on what I was there for. You would have thought I’d just met my teenage crush the way I was stuttering and stammering. I left both meetings without accomplishing what I needed to get done.
I think if I’d followed my colleague's example and written down a few notes prior to my meetings, I would have been much more effective.
It’s something I’m going to try out!