Devan Moonsamy 

It goes without saying that they are always people around us that get to a meeting without any preparation. Whether it’s forgetting to check their emails for any updates before a meeting or needing to review a product and prepare their input on it, some people in the work place never feel the need to prepare adequately. 

Recently, an Australian reporter made headlines for missing one of his emails prior to an interview with singer Adele. The email contained a review of her latest album and the interview was set to be around that. 

In South Africa, we are also no strangers to unpreparedness. Let’s recap a few years ago when then President, Jacob Zuma was delivering a speech where he couldn’t pronounce a number with many digits in it. This not just lead to him become an internet laughing meme but also highlighted the need for government officials to reassess their preparedness prior to public speaking. 

Being unprepared shows us that this person is not professional and they are disrespectful to the people around them. It is important to acknowledge the responsibility we have to attending a meeting. Infact, due to most meetings being hosted on an online platform it becomes difficult to assess if someone is prepared or not for a meeting. 

Working from home may have been the answer to companies keeping the wheel turning but it can be sited as a challenge for staff members thinking they can ‘wing’ it and no one will know. Working from home may be a contributing factor to unpreparedness as staff might not feel the need to prepare for a presentation as they would in a normal office setting. This being said we should look at how to improve the participation and engagement of staff using the online platform. 

Here are a few ways to call out unpreparedness and to encourage better meeting prep: 

– When you are hosting a meeting online with your team be sure to include all members in the discussion. Ask each person for their input on the subject and task your team with areas they need to get information on. This will allow you to identify who is doing meeting prep and also assist you in getting a spectrum of ideas on a subject. 

– If a team member is supposed to be hosting a meeting but they seem unprepared, instead of calling them out then and there, speak to them after their presentation to understand what prevented them from preparing better. Maybe they don’t have the resources or they didn’t properly understand what was required from them. 

– If you notice a habit of unpreparedness within your team it’s time to host a meeting on the importance of preparing for meetings and client interactions. The last thing you want is for a client to tell you how unprofessional and unprepared a team member of yours was. The same must said for the way meetings are hosted over the phones. We can’t be telling clients to hold on while we grab a pen. This should be in front of us and we should be ready to take down notes from our clients. 

-In light of being prepared, perhaps issuing meeting checklists could be the solution to preparing for a meeting. It is important to have team members understand why agendas are sent, why the minutes of a previous meeting are important and when and where to host these meetings. It does do a great deal to go back and have a refresher for staff on the do’s and don’ts of meetings. 

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

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