Doing 1-on-1s Better - EAG Tips Part II

post by kuhanj, Akash · 2022-03-24T11:22:54.645Z · EA · GW · 1 comments

Contents

  Context
  Why 1-on-1s/meetings can be one of the best uses of time
  Find the right people to have 1-on-1s with
  How to make your 1-on-1s as valuable as possible
    Approaching meetings with the right mindset
    Preparation ahead of the meeting
    What to do during the meeting
    What to do after meetings:
  A few miscellaneous thoughts
  Conclusion 
None
1 comment

Context

Many EAGx and EAG conferences are coming up (EAGx Oxford March 26-27, EAGx Boston April 1-3, and EAG London April 15-17), and attendees are often encouraged to spend most of their time at the conference in 1-on-1 meetings. However, the case for why 1-on-1s are so valuable is not often clear to attendees, nor is the process for setting up 1-on-1s.

We (Kuhan and Akash) thought it would be useful to share some thoughts on why we think 1-on-1s are so valuable, who to set up meetings with, and how to get the most out of them. 

Why 1-on-1s/meetings can be one of the best uses of time

Here are a few reasons why we think 1-on-1s are often valuable:

Find the right people to have 1-on-1s with

Given the ways 1-on-1s can be valuable, think about who to set up 1-on-1s with. Conferences like EAG/(x) are a great time to meet lots of people, but most community members I know are happy to have calls/in-person meetings outside of conferences as well. 

Here are a few tips to brainstorm good people to reach out to:

Once you’ve decided who would be good to reach out to, reach out over e-mail/messaging/Swapcard (during EAGs) briefly introducing yourself and why you think talking to them might be valuable (for both parties). Some people also have Calendly/meeting scheduling links publicly available where you can sign up for a time to chat. People are often busy, both in general and especially at EAG, so don’t take a lack of response as a strong signal that they aren’t interested in talking to you. People also often miss messages/emails, and appreciate being bumped if they’ve forgotten to respond. 

How to make your 1-on-1s as valuable as possible

Making 1-on-1s go as well as possible involves not only making the most of your time with your conversation partner, but also doing prep work ahead of the meeting, following up afterwards, and generally approaching meetings with the right mindset. 

Approaching meetings with the right mindset

Spencer Greenberg illustrates the idea of listening with interested attention using the following metaphor: 

Imagine you’re going to an art gallery which you’ve heard (from a reliable source) has incredible, complex art that requires effort to understand. In that circumstance, you might approach each piece of art with “interested attention”. You’re assuming there is something worth seeing there, so even if at first you don’t “get” a piece, you’re going to keep focussing on it with interest to try to uncover its value. This interest is genuine before you even know what the value is, because you’re giving the benefit of the doubt. If you start thinking about what you’re having later for lunch, or glancing ahead prematurely to the next piece of art, it’s going to interfere with the experience. The “interested attention” causes you to notice more that’s of value, but also, potentially to value more of what you notice. Contrast this with a situation where a friend dragged you unwillingly to an art gallery, and you’ve heard the art there is terrible. You may pay little attention to each piece, and view the art with little interest. If you don’t understand a piece right away, you may immediately move on to the next one. This is the opposite of “interested attention”. 

For more information on listening with Interested Attention, please see Spencer Greenberg’s writeup

We think it’s much more likely that you have a really fruitful conversation if you prepare and go into it thinking it might be quite valuable. 

Preparation ahead of the meeting

What to do during the meeting

What to do after meetings:

A few miscellaneous thoughts

Conclusion 

We hope this post (and the accompanying good questions document) can be a helpful reference to have better 1-on-1 meetings, both at EAG and in general. Some other helpful resources on 1-on-1s can be found here [EA · GW] and here [EA · GW] (this in particular is good to read before EAG - especially re. writing a good bio on Swapcard and reaching out with informative messages). We’d also love to hear your suggestions for how to get the most out of 1-on-1s.


 

1 comments

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comment by Kirsten (Khorton) · 2022-03-25T12:26:17.612Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think this post represents how a lot of people in EA feel they get the most value out of EAG, but I disagree with a lot of it and find I get more value from doing the opposite a lot of the time.

I don't have time rn to list all the areas I'd choose to act differently, although I can aim to later if people are interested, but one basic comment is that I usually find spending 2 hours with a small group of 4 who have something in common much more rewarding than spending 30 minutes in 4 different 1-1 conversations.

The 2 hour group conversation means that we don't duplicate sharing our knowledge and I can get a better sense of how these people relate to each other as well, plus I have the chance to follow up with people individually or as a group which is nice.