One of the biggest blunders I have seen ad agency people make - again and again, over the years - is to spend 55 minutes of a one-hour presentation, talking.
The result of course is that the most crucial part of the meeting, the back-and-forth, is severely curtailed.
We do it because we think we're selling something, rather than working collaboratively with the Client to solve their marketing problems. We do it because we train people to 'present' not to listen. We do it because we hire extroverts, performers, and egotists.
(Please note I'm not excluding myself from these criticisms. Been guilty many times).
There's an interesting article in the latest Harvard Business Review titled 'Create a conversation, not a presentation'.
Many of its recommendations are totally impractical in our industry, such as, for example, circulating a presentation to the meeting's participants several days in advance. Consulting may be different, but in advertising that would often mean we didn't have any time to do the actual work.
But the main thrust of the piece - that a good meeting is a conversation, not a presentation - is well-observed.
Obviously, the key is to ask questions. And I'm talking about genuine questions, not the fake kind whose real intention is to display how smart the question-asker is, or how much knowledge they have.
I think too often we're concerned to fill the time. Whereas some of the best meetings I've ever had occurred when we finished early by mistake, and it then devolved into just a really productive chat.
We're also too often concerned to appear 'right'.
But usually the person who has the right questions is more useful than the person who has, or thinks they have, all the answers.