01. Introduction to meetings as a prospect researcher
In this chapter you will:
- Develop skills in effectively preparing for, participating in, and leading meetings.
- Increase your knowledge of good practice for keeping meetings relevant, efficient, and useful, especially when presenting or sharing research.
- Increase your awareness of how planning, preparation, and follow-up activities can enhance the effectiveness of meetings to bring about more successful outcomes.
- Learn about presentation, communication, and facilitation skills for meetings.
- Explore the benefits of, and tools for, ensuring meetings fulfil the needs of attendees and foster cooperative working relationships.
Meetings are a regular part of everyone’s work routine. This section will look at meetings from the perspective of the prospect researcher and will address some basic questions researchers might have. We have also included top tips contributed by prospect researchers from a range of settings who were asked to share what works well for them.
What constitutes a meeting? For this chapter, a meeting is a planned group session with an agenda and a set purpose. It can take place in person, on the telephone, or online. Informal meetings do take place and much of the advice and guidance listed here will be appropriate for this kind of meeting, but in terms of being able to prepare for and present data at meetings, we are primarily addressing scheduled sessions. In the following pages we’ll review the different kinds of meetings you might expect to attend as a prospect researcher.
Why do prospect researchers attend meetings? You might assume that prospect researchers mostly attend meetings for one of two purposes: either they are bringing prospect research, or they are gleaning valuable information. Whilst both are common reasons for attending meetings, there are many more. Some of these reasons relate to being part of a larger team and understanding how research fits into the broader aims of the fundraising team. Some have to do with the perception of professionalism and value that research brings – having a researcher in an important meeting demonstrates confidence in them as a valuable member of the team. It should be your aim to be included in donor and strategy meetings and other sessions that encourage your status as a vital part of the team. This chapter introduces the different types of meetings you are likely to attend as a prospect researcher and includes sections on knowing your audience and tips on public speaking, as well as some examples of meetings, good and bad, that prospect researchers have had.
Who attends meetings with prospect researchers? Many meetings that prospect researchers attend will be internal, there may also be occasions when prospect researchers are included in external meetings, and indeed, much good could be done to donors’ perception of research if they could put a face to a name and understand the work we do. There is much you can glean as a researcher by meeting the prospect in person, although it might be relatively rare for this to happen. In the chapter we’ll cover what might be expected of you as a meeting attendee and as a meeting organiser. Prospect researchers are partners in helping the organisation to achieve its mission alongside the rest of the fundraising team and the wider workforce and as such may encounter colleagues with many different roles and responsibilities.
How often might prospect researchers attend meetings? As with many fundraising roles, a prospect researcher always has work to do. Our work is often time-sensitive, so it’s important to balance attendance at meetings with desk research. It would be unusual for a prospect researcher never to attend meetings, and we suggest keeping abreast of what meetings are taking place and which might be useful to attend. Some meetings you are expected to attend might be a time-drain or may not give you any opportunities to speak. Tips on how to foster good meeting environments are included in this chapter.
How do I foster constructive working relationships? Meetings allow team members to come together and bond over shared goals. They can be particularly useful in generating a team mentality and introducing colleagues to your prospect research work. This chapter includes tips on knowing your audience, which can help you to understand how best to present your research and work with your colleagues in this setting.
How will this chapter help me? Meetings are an inevitable part of working life, and a bad meeting can have a big impact, not least on your confidence and relationship building at work. To be part of a well-connected team, you need to be able to work in groups and so meeting with your colleagues and others is essential to your success as a prospect researcher. This chapter should help to prepare you to both attend and lead meetings, so you can become the person of whom it’s said “X called this meeting so I know it will be worth attending and useful.”