Communicating one message to many people

January 3rd, 2014

It’s a common situation – you’re in a meeting and you need to communicate a message to two or more people.

As requested, you’ve provided a written report beforehand; you’ve been given an allocated time slot; and you (and they) know what you’re there for. So, what’s the problem? ….

1 whether it’s a short summary or a long report, which of them has read it?

2 are they all in agreement as to what you are there for and how much time is needed to discuss the issue?

3 how do they each prefer to discuss the issue and make a decision?

Even within organisations where meetings are well set up, everyone knows to read everything beforehand and agenda items are clear, people will have taken different things from your written report and your presentation. And, no matter the topic or issue, the amount of preparation and pre-reading, individual preferences will have far more impact on the meeting than most people take account of.

As an example – you are meeting two people, same level as each other, within one organisation. One person:

– skim reads the information beforehand, identifying two things which are most important to them (although won’t have told you beforehand what they are);

– in the meeting, s/he wants a 10-minute presentation

– then wants 20 minutes for open discussion and questions.

The second person:

– has read all the information

– wants a 2- minute summary

– then wants 10 minutes to get their 4 questions answered.

If you don’t know these people well, how do you establish this early enough to react? Then, how do you react?

If you’d like help in understanding communication preferences and dynamics in meetings, get in touch. We’d be happy to help.


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