Six ways to get the most from business meetings

6 ways to get the best from yourself and others in meetings

If you thought public speaking wasn’t relevant to your business, then think again. Because whether or not you or your team have to stand up and address an audience, you are still speaking – to colleagues, clients, prospects, or suppliers – and so being effective is a key skill.

Take meetings. They are part and parcel of business life so, love them or hate them, you cannot avoid them.

While much of our work here at Open Dawes Training involves helping people who are due to stand up and give a talk or presentation, we also help business owners and their teams be more effective in meetings.

We recently helped a financial adviser; much of her work involves meeting with clients. During her meetings there is fact finding and form filling to be carried out, then a follow up to present recommendations. Our training has helped these meetings to have a more natural flow and has enabled her to engage more fully and more confidently with clients. When we train people on a one-to-one basis we video them at the beginning and again at the end, so they can see how much they have progressed.

We also train groups in how to get the most out of meetings. For example, we supported a BAFTA award-winning client in London who creates mobile games.

The team wanted public speaking training to make them more effective when pitching new games to the likes of Apple. However, they also wanted to make their meetings more productive. As creatives, they found it difficult to bring focus and structure.

We ran three, one-day workshops so the majority of the team were able to participate. We helped change the whole ethos for their business meetings. They went from loose gatherings to focused, organised and productive events.

Our extensive training included helping the attendees learn how to overcome any issues around interrupting and conflict. We also taught them how to be active listeners, covering body language and looking for non-verbal cues from colleagues. We helped them to have value and belief in their ideas, to put them forward with conviction and without hesitation.

Making the most of meetings:

  1. Make sure you have prepared your knowledge/experience/input so you have confidence to get involved in the discussion, and back up your points if required.
  2. Be brave. You may have employees who worry about confrontation. Confrontation need not be negative. It is an opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions and to debate, and the ultimate decisions will be all the more sound for it. Just one person not contributing can lead to a skewed/sub-optimum conclusion.
  3. Actively listen (paying attention both to verbal and non-verbal cues, and providing eye contact to show that you are listening). Communication is a two-way process and listening is as important as speaking.
  4. When you are speaking, body language is just as important as verbal communication, so be conscious what message you are sending with your body language.
  5. Have value and belief in your ideas and deliver them with conviction rather than hesitation.
  6. Have sponsors (or volunteer to be a sponsor) for tasks required at the end of the meeting, otherwise the discussion will not actually lead onto anything, which may arouse feelings of futility about this and future meetings.

Open Dawes Training’s MD Chris Dawes talked about Making Meetings Matter on one of his popular Facebook Live presentations, which proved to be of great interest when people realised that these skills are beneficial to far more people just those who stand up and give presentations. They are skills and training that aid internal and external meetings, with examples including sales, planning, project, management, review, department heads, and Board meetings, and so many more.

In other words, if you or your employees/colleagues have to communicate with one or more other people at any point in your professional day, then having the confidence to speak up and get involved, encouraging others to do the same, and to keep control of the meeting and its productivity can not be underestimated, or even assumed. You owe it to yourself and your organisation to make sure that it is always time well spent, and opens doors to outcomes and next actions.

To find out more about our training, 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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