On one of my recent trips to the UK it occurred to me, as I was preparing for a round of meetings, some one to one, some involving 4 or 5 people, some required reports, some involved negotiation, some involved education – there was a little thought passing through my head!

We all need to ask ourselves much, much more often – What questions is this meeting trying to answer? What questions is this report trying to answer?

How many meetings, reports, communications of any type have become tired, stale, past their sell by date.

Think about it.

What questions are your current meetings answering? – General, bland stuff that leads to zero insight, zero change? What happened last week in marketing? What happened in sales? Are you really just turning up for that Monday sales meeting because that’s what you do on a Monday morning?

Where is the innovation? Markets change at 100mph, competitors emerge from nowhere, staff turn off, systems stop working.

Questions need to be constantly reviewed for relevance along with the reason for the meeting, the report, the speech.

You are allowed to change the questions. You need to change the questions.

Twitter asks: What’s Happening? Who cares if you are washing the car, taking the dog for a walk, rearranging your sock drawer! The question I answer is: What insightful piece of information have you found from the quality press and Blogosphere that you would like to share? OK sometimes I answer What’s Happening? (but only to change the pace a little).

My point being, are we even conscious of the questions our communication is answering?

Now it is not always about moving down into the granular detail although that is a natural corollary of getting to grips with an issue eg
in a marketing meeting you may expect the meeting to answer big questions about overall download stats or basic Google analytics whereas later you might might want to explore more sophisticated topics such the relative performance of specific white paper campaigns.

Of course meetings should also answer big stuff such as, Are we happy with the web site revamp, is the messaging clear, the navigation simple etc. We need meetings that ask: are we being true to our strategy, are we myopically focused at being remarkable in our chosen market.

So sharpen up your communication by starting with questions not answers.

Just some thoughts.