The Executive Director (ED) of the health association had attended many government meetings over the years but this meeting was a first. He had never met with this particular department’s Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) before and was eager to communicate as much information as possible. He glanced at his notes again, but he hardly needed them. He knew his issues inside and out. The trick would be to make sure that the message was being delivered with all the necessary information following a logical pattern. This Assistant Deputy Minister was new to the portfolio and was an unknown to the organization. The Executive Director wanted to make sure that he captured all the nuances of the message and left a good impression. The ED’s director of government relations had suggested starting the meeting with a brief description of the association, followed by an overview of the profession, but the Executive Director felt that would not only take too much time, but would insult the intelligence of the ADM.
The Executive Director was about 45 minutes into the hour long meeting when the ADM asked him with some surprise if the profession actually worked in hospitals. It was at this point that the Executive Director decided that he would have to do three things, 1) abandon his approach 2) start the discussion over again with a description of the profession and 3) not make eye contact with his director of government relations who had attended the meeting with him.
- Assume nothing about what people know; make sure you research the person you are meeting with before you meet .
- Make sure your audience is starting the discussion at the same point of understanding that you are.
- Send them a brief in advance.
- Complex messages require multiple meetings or messages.