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Planning an Effective Mentorship Session
Planning an Effective Mentorship Session

This article talks about how to effectively plan for your mentorship session. We also share different conversation prompts.

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Written by Mentorly
Updated over a week ago

Planning your Session

Not everyone knows what to expect when going into a mentorship meeting - this applies to both mentees and mentors. Each video call is different from the last, and time is of the essence.

For that reason, creating an agenda is critical for both parties involved because they should understand exactly what they want to discuss, accomplish, learn, and prepare for the next session. Creating and managing agendas isn’t always a straightforward process, which is why we’re here to help!

Agendas Simplified

Perhaps you’re unsure how to make an agenda because you don’t know where to start or how it should look once completed. An agenda generally contains a list encompassing topics and talking points, as well as action items or activities to go over during a meeting. When you book a session with your mentor, you’re asked to list a few things you’d like to cover during your session.

Check out our Setting an Agenda for your Session article to learn more.

Agendas are often used in mentorship relationships to maximize each mentor and mentee meeting and get better results by presenting a plan for staying on topic, not wasting time, and clearly outlining the scope of each meeting.

But remember that a mentorship relationship, especially a successful one, rests on the shoulders of two-way communication. Therefore, you’ll want to focus on using conversation prompts to outline the meeting as clearly as possible.

Conversation Prompts for Mentees

As a mentee, you might need some reassurance that you’re talking to the right mentor. A large part of a successful mentorship relationship is about surrendering some control to your mentor and opening up about various issues. This is easy to do with some carefully selected conversation prompts. You can find a list of conversation prompts and questions in our Conversation Prompts article.

Bonding-Oriented or Discovery Prompts

Although initial meetings should clearly establish goals and roles, it’s not a bad idea to have constant reminders of both the differences and similarities.

One topic of discussion for the agenda could be the mentor’s personal journey. Something as simple as “tell me more about yourself” is a conversation prompt used in many meetings to learn a bit more with every session.

Getting closer to a mentor requires sharing. You’ll likely tell them a lot about your past experiences and perceived strengths and weaknesses but will want to hear something similar in return to ensure you’re on the same page and have something relatable in common.

Goal-Oriented Prompts

You can also talk about new skills you want to acquire and hone, or about goals you may have in your personal life or professional career. This will help mentors understand what you’re looking to achieve in each meeting.

Feedback-Oriented Prompts

Since the whole point of mentorship is to get an outside perspective and preferably expertise and guidance to grow, you’ll likely want some feedback too. Instead of listing a bunch of virtues and flaws, ask the mentor what they believe are your strengths and weaknesses.

This will provide you with insight into yourself, a chance to reflect on your experiences, and indicate whether the mentor is actively listening. By clearly outlining your goals and finding common ground, the feedback will be more relevant to the scope of the meeting instead of generic advice.

Optional Update Prompts

If this isn’t your first mentorship meeting, you’ve likely worked on your growth since the previous session, and it won’t hurt to carve some time out of the meeting to discuss anything new that’s happened. You can present new challenges, mention accomplishments, and anything else that ties into the overarching agenda topic of discussion.

Conversation Prompts for Mentors

Mentors can take charge during meetings, but that happens very rarely. Mentorship relationships are most successful when the mentor adopts an active listener role, doesn’t interrupt, and focuses on fully understanding the message before replying. Therefore, agenda conversation prompts can look a bit different for mentors.

Edification-Oriented Prompts

If you’re uncertain about the quality of your advice, make sure you understand the message. A simple “Here’s what I’m hearing” followed by a “but is that what you’re trying to say?” are powerful conversation prompts that indicate you’re wary of giving feedback and advice until you’re absolutely clear about what the mentee is trying to say.

Own Experience Prompts

Based on what you know about a mentee, only some of your own experiences and parts of your journey may apply to their situation. Unless you’re two peas in a pod, you want to use your knowledge and insight into the mentee to prepare some personal experiences to share that they might draw valuable information from.

Get Feedback on the Session

Don’t be afraid to ask the mentee how they feel the relationship is progressing. Save mentorship-oriented feedback conversation prompts for the end of the meeting. These should be further down on the agenda and will help create better meeting agendas moving forward.

Validation Prompts

If a mentee shares recent successes, they do it because they seek validation. Mentors should celebrate wins, even small ones, to give the mentees a real sense of progressing in the right direction by using validation-oriented conversation prompts.

Personal Insight Prompts

Many mentees will talk exclusively about their professional lives, goals, and challenges, but avoid going deep into themselves as people. Yet mentorship relationships work when the mentor takes a genuine interest in the mentee as a person.

Learning about what makes them tick strengthens the bond and makes both parties more involved and committed to the process. Asking about their lives or how professional challenges might have impacted their social interactions can yield relevant information.

Since mentees are unlikely to willingly offer this information or could be oblivious to its value, it’s up to mentors, to you, to dig a bit deeper. These conversations show a more vested interest, foster trust, and open up new possibilities for offering assistance.

Planning, Openness, and Clarity Are Keys to Successful Mentorship Meetings

Mentors and mentees can meet a few times a week or only once a month -but even the lowest session frequency can produce amazing results if the meetings are carefully planned. Mentees should be open and structure their agenda around their most important conversation topics while aiming to achieve at least one minor goal per section.

Mentors must curate their agenda around conversation prompts that clarify the mentee’s message, so they can offer the best advice in a specific scenario.

If you can get these things right every time, each mentorship session will go smoothly and accomplish far more than a discussion with no clear topic or end in sight.

Have any questions or need any assistance?

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