How many of you out there watch television or movies? (Most hands raise, yes?)
If not, how many of you are readers? (Remaining hands raise, I hope!)
The first few moments of a movie and the first few lines of the book set the tone for all that is to follow.
In the case of a movie or a tv show – if you miss the first few moments, you’re lost. That opening series of scenes is DESIGNED to give you the context and the tone you need to absorb and make sense of the rest of the film. Most people will make CERTAIN they are in place for the beginning of a show and protect that time so they don’t have to disturb others or ask someone sitting next to them to catch them up.
Your meetings can benefit from the same concept!
Many of my clients report challenges with people coming to meetings late and meetings being unfocused. When we work on creating a deliberate and STRONG start, we see some positive changes.
Leverage the Power of the Beginning of Your Next Meeting
Here are some quick tips for designing a more powerful beginning.
FOR MEETING LEADERS
Open with a round of What’s New & Good?
My business coach, Christine Kane, introduced me to this activity during one of our quarterly business planning retreats. We are so conditioned to starting out with a discussion about the problems and challenges we face, the struggles we’re dealing with or the problematic issues of the world, our families, our lives.
It’s common and accepted practice. Misery loves company. It drags down the meeting. It brings down the energy. It doesn’t bring you closer to solutions.
What’s New & Good. This is meant to be quick and can be as focused or as
broad as you’d like it to be. Give everyone a minute to two minutes for this, if you have time. If not, give them 20 seconds each – make it a fun challenge and an icebreaker.
Some suggested ways to narrow/focus the activity:
- Meeting focus – whatever the meeting is about
- Client focus
- Project focus
- Colleague focus
- Kudos focus – taking time to acknowledge something good a colleague/peer/client did.
You learn so much about each other and about what’s working when you open this way. And… if someone is a few minutes late, they don’t miss the key agenda items and purpose/focus of the meeting. And, the truth is, once this becomes a practice, people will make it a point to get there on time so they can celebrate and share.
Prepare Your Opening
After starting with something positive and getting the group warmed up, then get crystal clear about the PURPOSE of the meeting and the DESIRED OUTCOMES or EXPECTATIONS for the meeting. Post it on the wall – that way if there are people who come in late, they can see it for themselves. If the meeting begins to drift or if people have questions or need additional information to be able to meet these expectations, you can point back to the purpose or to the appropriate information in their meeting materials.
FOR MEETING ATTENDEES
Be on the Lookout for What’s New & Good
Come to the meeting prepared to share something new and good! Be patient
with yourself – if you’re usually focused on the old & frustrating, this will be a
more challenging exercise for you. Do it anyway!
Create space to arrive on time OR ask for what you need so you arrive prepared and ready to jump right in.
Stuff happens. We all do it from time to time. But do your best to communicate in advance with the leader of the meeting if you KNOW you will be late. Many times we design meetings to maximize the people and the time – if you are missing during a key piece of that, we may be forced to pivot at the expense of all the others in the room. If we KNOW in advance, we can pivot in advance and minimize the impact on the rest of the group.
What impact could a more deliberate and strong, positive start to your next meeting have?
I challenge you to give it a try this week and let me know your results!
I look forward to hearing from you and learning from you!
Have a great week,
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