Do Your Homework!

Do Your Homework!

With the return of classes I am sure a number of you will need to frequently use the line “Do Your Homework!” in order to ensure that all of the students in your family will succeed.

Ah yes, the dreaded struggle that students face with the beginning of the school year. It can seem overwhelming that you would have to do work at home as well as in the classroom. “Haven’t we spent enough time on this?”, “How is this going to help me later?” are just some of the many questions constantly thrown out when students complain about the need to do homework.

Doing homework shouldn’t be about finishing off all the work you weren’t able to finish during the school day. It should be an exercise in preparedness. Yes, it is important to be prepared for class in order to be able to participate and contribute to one’s learning experience. If you are better prepared you can be more confident that you won’t have a blank faced stare when you are asked a question or for your opinion on a particular subject.

Once you understand how homework is a preparedness exercise you will so much further ahead and be able to accomplish significant learning and progress.

Sadly, after we are finished our formal schooling we seem to forget that the preparedness lessons of “homework” have great value in our careers, in particular if you are required to meet with numerous people or make frequent sales calls.

During my time working for a senior Canadian federal cabinet minister, I unfortunately had to attend numerous meetings with stakeholders who come ill prepared to meetings. It’s not that they don’t have a good handle on their own presentations. Many have no clue who they are presenting to and fail to set out a course to most effectively pitch to those they are meeting.

With so many resources available to do your research about who you are meeting, there should be no excuse as to why you don’t come to a meeting and get straight to the point of your presentation in a manner that will immediately resonate with those you are meeting.

You will be sure to impress if you have a greater understanding of where those you are meeting are coming from. This will help to ease any intentions and build a good rapport, ensuring that the meeting flows smoothly in a favourable direction.

Social media makes it easy for us to find out a lot of the basic information you might want to know about potential clients or meeting attendees. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook provide information about so many aspects of a person’s life. This can be helpful to get a sense of the background of those you are meeting with.

Where did they go to school? What have been their past positions or occupations? Are they involved with any activities outside of work such as sports or volunteer activities? What are their political views or issues they are passionate about? Do you have any friends in common? Have they recently won an award or accomplished a significant achievement?

Yes, this may sound a bit stalkerish but really it’s not. They chose to make this information public. It is provided to allow us to make connections.

Far too many times in government, I have attended meetings in the role of ‘the client’ where the stakeholder pitching me for funding or for some form of policy change knew absolutely nothing about where I was coming from, my style or viewpoints. This isn’t an ego boost exercise but it would have helped develop a rapport and a greater sense of trust and made more effective use of limited available time. I am always impressed by those who have taken the time to do their homework and are better prepared for meetings.

Demonstrating that you have done your homework says a lot to a potential client or stakeholder. It shows you have taken the time to present information in a manner that will most likely be heard and accepted. It shows that you are actually willing to listen, (and not just to the sound of your own voice and presentation.) It shows you want to be an active participant in a longer term relationship with the potential client.

“Do your homework!” isn’t just for students. It can help us all to further advance our businesses and professional careers. So before you attend your next meeting with a potential client or stakeholder, make sure you have done your homework.

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