How to Have Monkey-Free Meetings. A Better Questions Cheat Sheet

How do we be a solutions provider and a leader / influencer in meetings? You didn’t think there were so many better solutions-oriented questions to ask about a meeting, did you?

Here’s your checklist cheat sheet to pull out before, during and at the end of almost any meeting.

Before the meeting:

Where have you already made the most progress (on the topic of the meeting)?

What is the one thing you want to be better (as a result of the meeting)?

What’s the one thing you want the presentation to enable you to do in your work?

When you receive a really good presentation, what format and content works best for you?

Suppose we have a good meeting, what will be different afterwards (that’s useful to you)?

What do you need me/us to focus on in the meeting?

Starting the meeting:

The goals and agenda for this meeting are… What do you need me to focus on?

Suppose this meeting goes well for you and your team, what will have worked best?

Suppose we have a good meeting, what will be different afterwards (that’s useful to you)?

You mentioned X in our lead up to this meeting. You’ve probably had experience in that area. What worked on those occasions? 

During the meeting:

Thinking of the presentation so far, how would you see this working for you?

You have just mentioned you like X … suppose we had implemented that element, how would that be useful to the organization? How would that help you with your larger goals?

What would you see being done differently to make it work for the customer? And how would you see this proposal as useful in making that happen?

Towards the end of the session:

Thinking of the various elements that make sense to you, how do you see them working for you / your team?

You mentioned you’re uncertain about (topic). Suppose we were to move ahead with the overall proposal and we made that work for you, what would you see us doing?

Inattentive, distracted, or uncomfortable audience:

How do you see this (presentation / section / concept) being useful to you so far?

What can you tell me that has been useful in the presentation so far?

On a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 means the presentation has limited value and 10 means  you’re ready to get going, where are you now?

Irrelevant questions:

Good question! In order to deliver on our meeting goal, I’d like to answer that at the end of the presentation. Go back to agenda.

I want to respect your time and the question that’s just been asked. How would you like me to handle it? Go back to agenda.

I’m glad you asked. I mentioned X, Y and Z earlier. My answer to your question is (respond). I think you’ll get more insight on your question if we go back to the agenda … point B in the next section should be helpful.

Challenging questions:

I’m glad you asked. My answer is (minimal detail). How do you see that being useful?

I have an answer, but first, who in the group can share some insights?

I’m impressed by your question. Particularly by (topic). You must know a lot about this area. Can I hear a bit more?

I can see that this proposal requires a lot of thought. When you have undertaken this kind of activity in the past, what worked? How did you manage to do that?

What gives you grounds for optimism that things will work out this time?

Thinking of today’s proposal and the parts that make sense to you, what would you see yourself doing right away?

Tough questions:

(Don’t disagree. Restate their point and ask) Did I get it right?

I am curious about the thinking behind your question. Tell me more?

People would say that’s a great question. I suggest it’s a bit ahead of the agenda we agreed to. Let’s continue and get back to the question later in the meeting and make sure it’s not missed.

Suppose your point was no longer an issue, what would we be doing instead?’

Sounds like you are (concerned) about (topic). Suppose we were able to address your concern, what would we be working on once we’d implemented it?

Thinking of your good question, and what we have proposed…suppose it did work, what would you see being useful to the customer, (other stakeholders, etc.)?

Closing the meeting:

When we have implemented the programme, what’s the one thing you see being most useful to you / the business / the customer?

I’d like to ask each person in the room how you see this meeting outcome being useful to you.

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