Any company director or owner will tell you that meetings are part and parcel of running a business. Love them or hate them, you cannot avoid them.
As Paul Axtell, author of Meetings Matter, wrote: “Meetings are at the heart of an effective organisation, and each meeting is an opportunity to clarify issues, set new directions, sharpen focus, create alignment, and move objectives forward.”
So given that we need to run or attend meetings, how can we make them as effective as possible for all concerned? How can we ensure optimum communication skills and a greater presence from everyone in the room?
We’re not focusing here on the nuts and bolts of correctly setting the agenda, remembering to invite the attendees and making sure there is water in the room.
As public speaking and presentation trainers, we’re turning the spotlight on the attendees themselves and how to get them – your team – to perform at their best so you get the optimum outcome from any meeting.
Because being good at presenting and expressing a point of view – in other words, communicating – is just as important during a meeting as it is when standing up in front of an audience.
Imagine this common scenario: half-a-dozen or so people are in a meeting, and various topics are being covered, all of which are important to the business. Decisions need to be made.
In the room is one person who says little or nothing; there is another who speaks up but only to echo others’ ideas, not to present their own; and there is a dominant speaker who isn’t shy about putting across his or her point of view. The wallflower, the ‘yes’ person, and the steamroller.
The outcome? We can’t be certain but there’s a fair chance the steamroller’s views will predominate, and this is a shame and invariably unproductive.
Of course, we are exaggerating to prove a point, which is this: without communications skills training, how can any of those common types effectively get across their points of view, experiences, knowledge, or even opinions? And if they can’t, important decisions may be skewed.
If, among your team, you have people with all the right knowledge, experience and skills who are then unable to effectively participate in a meeting, then their talents aren’t being fully utilised.
Ideas lead to innovation. From all-round participation and debate, the best ideas are often born.
Some people really struggle to get over the initial hurdle of getting involved in the discussion, especially if there are strong characters within the meeting. Just because someone is a strong character, it does not mean that they actually want the meeting’s outcome to be sub-optimum, so would not only prefer everyone’s confident involvement, but actually respect them for it.
During our training courses (or sections of internal training content) on effective communication and presence in meetings, we have covered various silly ideas to enable people to get over that initial involvement brick wall, and this then enables them to keep going throughout:
To find out more about our training for effective meetings, please get in touch. Our training includes in-house courses, open courses, for groups or one-to-one and is CPD accredited.
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