A meeting is not a live email

By March 2, 2011Presentation Skills

You have arranged a meeting. You care about the outcome. It’s your job to introduce the meeting.

Determine what? Assign what? Zzzzzz

“So – what we want to do today is to consider our response to the JRC report, determine the way forward and assign responsibility for the next steps”.

Sounds good: everyone there needs to know the purpose of the meeting and it is logical to explain it right at the start. But there’s something missing. It is boring.

Successful persuasion relies on managing the way people feel, not just what they think. So top and tail the introduction with two simple improvements.

First, give the big picture. ‘Our response to the JRC report’ is not that exciting in its own right. So first put it in context. “All our ambitions for expansion into emerging markets rely, in part, on making the right response to the JRC report”. Every meeting , however small, is about making a change that will contribute to a strategic priority. Otherwise, why would you call the meeting? Find the big thing people care about and show how your meeting – in however small a way – contributes to achieving it.

Last, make people feel special. Remind them, individually if possible, why you invited them to the meeting. “Andrew, Jane, Sanjay, you have great experience from that similar report in London. Katherine, Stephen, you should be able to help us understand the tax implications.” A moment’s recognition fires interest and lets people know their role in the discussion.

Does it matter how people feel? Well, if you’re not going to use the human element, just send an email. If you do call a meeting, make sure you take care of how people feel, not just what they think.

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