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3 ways to own your general meeting

November 11, 2021
5 min read time

Just as Sophia Petrillo of The Golden Girls would say, "Picture it: Sicily, 1922," I am here to tell you to picture it: the entertainment industry, 2021.

You've developed an understanding of the business' ever-changing landscape, worked hard to create your brand, and finally, you scored that general meeting. Maybe you know the one thing you absolutely need to do when it comes to said meeting, but do you know everything you need to know in order to kill it?

Here are three things to keep in mind so you — in the words of RuPaul, another great lady of television — don't f*ck it up:

Research the company

This seems like a no-brainer, but it really does come off as unprofessional when someone waltzes in for a meeting without knowing a thing about the company they’re meeting with. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down and pore over a studio, network, or production company’s entire slate, but having a sense of their place in the industry, their major players, and the type of content they create is helpful. During your meeting ask about the company’s mandate: How many films or shows do they produce a year? What types of genres and budgets do they typically work with? What is their vision for the future? Ask the person or people you’re meeting with — if they are allowed to discuss it — what projects they recently worked on or have coming up that they are excited about and how those projects align with what the company is aiming to accomplish. Mandates change, but understanding a company’s needs can let you know how you and your work can best fit in with them. 

Get to know the person behind the title 

Aside from the company itself, research the person (or people) with whom you’re set to meet. See where else they’ve worked before and what projects they’ve worked on. Look up where their name has appeared in the trades. Check out where they’re from, where they went to school, and if they have any interests that align with yours. This knowledge can create opportunities for organic connection in your conversation, and those small points of connection can then help distinguish you in follow-ups. Don’t make your meeting overly personal by bringing up everything you’ve learned about them and/or oversharing about you and your experiences, but try to probe to see if they’re happy to talk about more than work. For example, I wouldn’t normally talk about my love of college basketball in a general meeting, but if I see that the person I’m meeting with went to a rival school, I might mention it in passing, and depending on the response, chat about it more. If you saw on a producer’s LinkedIn that they volunteer, maybe comment on your own passion for helping others. If you’re on Zoom with an exec who is interrupted by their pet, don’t be afraid to let your pet walk into frame too! Also be sure to ask about what other writers and/or directors they like, and what shows and movies they watch, so you can gage their individual taste and submit to them appropriately in the future. If they invited you to the meeting based specifically on one of your projects, ask for their thoughts on said project, and if they’re really effusive and enthusiastic, ask if they could maybe see any synergy between you and any of their upcoming projects. 

Hone your spiel 

Many people dread being asked the open-ended "tell me about yourself." Sometimes it takes the form of asking about your background or how you found yourself in this industry, but it comes up all the time. I suggest writing out a concise version of your "story" and practicing it out loud, editing it down until it sounds natural and you don't ramble and go on tangents. Take stock of your own work and know how to talk about it. Be prepared to talk about a particular piece of work that may have gotten you the meeting, but any other work the executive may ask you about, as well as what you hope to do with your career in the future. Stay away from pitching specific projects unless asked, but an ask in a meeting may sound like an executive saying, "tell me more about that," or "talk to me about your most recent project." And although this may sound silly, review your own favorite content creators, TV shows, movies, and anything else you feel exemplifies your tastes. You may have a multitude to choose from so tailor these slightly, depending on where and with whom you’re meeting. And while you may be watching the same shows as 100 million+ other households, it is usually those rarer gems that help distinguish you and demonstrate what you’re truly about; be sure to include some of your unique favorites. So once again, whether it’s on a Post-it next to your computer or a note on your phone to review before you walk inside a meeting room, write a few examples down to refer to, as it’s easy to draw a blank when asked about what you’re reading or watching. 

Once you’ve taken the meeting, remember to follow up with a word of thanks. In subsequent follow-ups, if you can mention a new deal or project that the company or person you met with is involved in, it shows you’ve been keeping tabs, which is great! This gives you an added reason for reaching out, and congratulations are always welcome. Keep in mind that while general meetings can be hugely helpful, they won’t make or break you, so there’s no need to put an enormous amount of pressure on them.

Be confident in yourself and your work, and respectful of the person you’re meeting, and you should be fine! 

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