“Meetings, where minutes are kept and hours are lost”. Anonymous
I remember reading that quote years ago when I was researching something called “Robert’s Rules Of Order” for a school project. While formal meetings may need “parliamentary oversight” like Roberts did, what we’re talking about today would be “office meetings”. And like all meetings they come in various shapes and sizes to fit every situation. The meetings I’m specifically considering are often called “sales” or “office” meetings and are often held on a schedule such as once per week or twice per month, etc.
As a Salesperson, Sales Manager, Master Trainer and Coach I’ve attended my share of meetings in the last thirty years. Most were, to be honest, kind of dull and boring. There are various reasons for this and if we spent time covering them all this blog would be worse than the worst meetings you ever attended. My goal is to avoid that.
Bad meetings typically have much in common because they’re lacking in something. It could be lack of leadership, direction, preparation, lack of knowledge about the subject, lack of ability to deliver content or perhaps lack of power to control the room. Often the boredom comes from announcements of information that should have been posted on the bulletin board or sent in an email. Here’s a tip for your meetings: avoid announcing negative news at your meetings. Negative news is pretty much guaranteed to get people upset.
An ad-libbing caution for you.
Before we continue I’d like to share some thoughts about “ad-libbing”. It’s not lacking in meetings, there is too much ad-libbing going on. For almost 20 years I had the pleasure of being a full time, professional musician and “jamming” or ad-libbing music was something we just loved to do. With that said we also lived by a basic musical rule “never practice on the gig”. That meant that when professionals played a song we would know our part inside and out BEFORE we got to a musical engagement or gig. When you work with professionals they will have their part ready when we’d get together to rehearse.
Once you KNOW your part you earn the right to “jam”.
As a Presentation Specialist and Sales Coach I used role-play as a tool for practicing with students to get them ready for their presentations. It was amazing to me how many sales professionals and managers I trained that did not think they needed to practice. This intrigued me because I thought that “if they could not role-play the scenario with their coach in a safe environment, how would the words magically come to them in the field, under pressure with money on the line?
Their reason to justify ad-libbing was often that they were concerned that their presentations would sound “canned”. My thought was that presentations should be “planned, not canned”. You should know your material, not memorize scripts or try to read your presentation. The takeaway here is that amateurs think they can ad-lib and the professionals know they need to practice until they master their material.
Now the Four Levels Of Competence come into play.
The lowest level is unconscious incompetent - you don’t even know what you don’t know. Then there is conscious incompetent where you realize how much you don’t know. Third, is conscious competent, this is when you know what you know and have to really think about what you’re doing. The fourth level unconscious competent, that’s when you know your stuff so well you don’t have to think about it because you have it down pat. You’ve practiced and mastered it. Unconscious competent is the level all professionals strive to attain.
What makes a good meeting?
As a trainer, coach and manager when it was my turn to conduct meetings I was adamant that my meetings would contain three points: to be fun, fun is very important to me; to be as brief as possible to get the job done and to be professional, prepared and polished. In this series of blogs we’ll be talking about office meetings or sales meetings. I’ll share lots of hints, tools, techniques and strategies to make your meetings more powerful. Most will work for any meeting except the kind where you need Robert’s Rules Of Order.
I like meetings now. If someone else is running them I like to watch, critique and learn. I like them most when I run them. To me it’s fun. Yes, I do like the control and it’s more than that. In my last 30 years as a Master Trainer I’ve learned ways of making meetings work for those who attend, management and staff, my goal is to share all of this with you. It feels so great to have someone say that a meeting was awesome and I want you to know that feeling too.
Results and fun are all that matter.
There should be a reason for every meeting. Results of some kind should be the reason and fun will make all meetings better. When meetings rock, use my “Seven Secrets For Successful Meetings” to help you. Think of them as “2D4PD”. Here’s what that means: the 2D is Determine and Decide; the 4P is Prepare, Promote, Produce and Present and the last D is Debrief.
We’ll be covering them all in this series of blog posts. Come back and join me, I’ll do my best to make you glad you did.
“Till we meet again”,
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