How to Make the Most of 20-Minute Mentorship Meetings as a Mentor

MindFrame Connect Co-Founder Brice Scheschuk shares how to get better at speed mentorship

Speed mentoring is becoming a common part of the high-growth company-building ecosystem. It connects founders with potential mentors in a quick and efficient way, allowing people to find the best matches possible. Similar to speed dating, founders are paired with mentors for 20-minute meetings. But the short duration and quantity of meetings requires a lot of preparation—during speed mentoring events such as Techstars, for example, founders or mentees can meet with up to 120 mentors during mentor madness.

Brice Scheschuk, the Co-Founder of MindFrame Connect, offered insights for mentors to make the most of their meetings with potential founders to find the best fit and impact.

The two goals of speed mentoring

According to Scheschuk, mentors will have two main goals:

1. Connection is about getting to know founders and determining if you can work with them on a number of levels. Scheschuk asked, “do you connect with the founder? Do you want to have a follow-up conversation?” If the answer is “yes,” you’ll likely be able to collaborate on some level.

2. Insight is about what you can offer the founders or mentees. Are there specific takeaways, frameworks, or ideas you can offer them based on your own experience?

Two tips for setting speed mentoring objectives

When meeting with founders, it’s essential to help them establish clear objectives or goals for the meeting. Further, you can determine what you can help them with based on your experience and expertise. Scheschuk said “a 20-minute session is relatively unscripted and can end without clear actionable items,” if you don’t have set goals or objectives.

Use objective-setting frameworks, such as the SMART framework–Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-oriented–to establish goals.

Set difficult objectives, said Scheschuk. They should not be easily achievable in one meeting and should require a deeper level of work and thought. These objectives will provide purpose to your 20-minute meetings and guide the conversation in the right direction.

What mentees are told to do

Scheschuk shared the advice they provide to mentees, so mentors can know what to expect from founders. Mentees are told to:

Send two people: One person will be taking notes while the other will be engaging in conversation with the mentor(s). Scheschuk also recommends using notetaking software to help with this.

Come with specific asks: Mentees are asked to consider exactly what they need from mentors, and then ask for it. By researching mentors beforehand, they should be able to understand which mentors are best suited for their needs and ask for what they need.

Connect conflicting mentors: In the event that two mentors are given conflicting advice, mentees may ask for a joint session between the two mentors to resolve the differences and argue the point together. However, this isn’t a requirement as a mentor–you can choose if you’re willing to be part of a conflicting-advice conversation, though it’s strongly encouraged.

Five keys to successful speed mentoring meetings

Scheschuk elaborated on how mentors can best set themselves up for success with these meetings by offering five pieces of advice.

1. Be prepared. Scheschuk said to research companies ahead of time and read their briefs so you have context for the meetings. Ensure you visit their websites and understand what the companies do so you can “contextualize it for your skills, experience, and judgement.”

2. Time is of the essence. Scheschuk encourages mentees and mentors alike to cut each other off constructively. He explained this should be agreed upon at the beginning of the meeting when setting norms. Scheschuk went on to say “be brief in points,” and said mentors should “be crisp and quick.”

3. Support less experienced mentors. There will be mentors of all experience levels, and Scheschuk emphasized the importance of supporting mentors who may have less experience than others.

4. Feedback is a gift. Asking mentors for feedback, and providing other mentors with feedback is all part of being a successful mentor, according to Scheschuk.

5. Determine a lead mentor if you’re in a group session with more than one mentor present. Meetings may be group meetings with more than one mentor. Scheschuk also said it’s a good idea to rotate who the lead mentor will be so multiple mentors get a chance.

Communicate your north star

A key aspect of good leadership is to continually focus on core values – a leader needs to live and breathe them (and a team needs to speak the same language regarding them). Praught recommends that top leadership clearly communicate the company’s north star and ensure each team member knows how their role aligns to that goal. A leader wants to ensure that everyone understands how they contribute to the overall mission.

A sample breakdown for a 20-minute meeting

To help mentors plan out their meetings, Scheschuk shared Alex Iskold’s 20-minute meeting framework. He provides the below guideline for how much time to spend on each section:

2 minutes: The mentee or founder introduces themselves, their company, and the founder-market fit. They will elaborate on why they’re doing this, what their vision is, and how much traction they have. They may also share where they are in their journey. Scheschuk said, “founders should be pitch perfect.”

1 minute: Product demonstration. This is where the founder will briefly share what they have, a working prototype, a physical product, or demonstrate how their product works.

12 minutes: This time is used for a question and answer period between the mentor and founder. The main purposes are to engage the mentor, identify the mentor’s strengths, and pinpoint the mentee’s issues. This helps determine whether there is a connection between the mentor and mentee, and establishes the objectives the mentor can help with.

5 minutes: The last portion of the meeting is used to wrap up any loose ends. Here you can review the objectives you discussed in the Q&A period, discuss the next steps, and decide whether you want to meet again or not.

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