Prepare in advance. No secret here – but how often do you actually take the time to prepare a detailed agenda for the meeting – and think through all the points you want to raise?
Take notes. Depending on the situation, you might be able to have someone else take notes for you. Assuming in the worst case scenario there isn’t, the more comprehensive, yet concise you can make your notes the better. A process I’ve been using for the last 18months and would highly recommend is[ilink url=”http://www.smartwisdom.com”]SmartWisdom[/ilink] . It’s described as advanced note taking – personally I’d call it mind mapping on steroids.
Take breaks and do remember to eat! Because people often haven’t planned properly, they become preoccupied with their hungry bellies and hope the meeting will wrap up soon. Plan breaks into meetings, and avoid providing a lunch of lots of bread/sugary snacks/crisps and soft drinks – they’re all concentration killers! If you’re worried about the cost of having something healthier such as salads or sushi – work out the costs of having the people there and the impact of the decisions you’re expecting them to take and put it in perspective.
Train your mind. While playing the cello, I’m frequently playing with others for four hours or more with only one break – and concentrating hard as I’m often going through music for the first time. What hobbies do you have – or could you have – that could be used to develop your concentration?
Build your physical stamina. Some of the most challenging situations I’ve found can be meetings abroad. You’ve probably had to get up at the crack of dawn and are either having to speak in a foreign language, or at least working with others who are, meaning you’ve got to work harder to understand them. I’d assert that if you’ve got good physical stamina, you stand a better chance of performing in these types of situation.