5 Tips for Running a Better Business Meeting

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We’re all busy.  The last thing we need is to attend another meeting. The minions gather around the board table and talk, ponder, and pontificate.  Time seems to stand still.  We’ve all been in meetings when we felt an overwhelming desire to be watching paint dry than to hear one more syllable uttered in the dungeon the business world refers to as “The Conference Room”.  In fact, so ineffective are most meetings that we’ve taken to naming our conference rooms with fun names so as to distract those weary attendees into thinking fun is on the other side of the door to Pebble Beach or Gilligan’s Island. So is there any way to spruce up our meetings?  Is there such a thing as an effective meeting?  Yes there is.
The next time you call a meeting follow these simple 5 steps:
  1. Prepare.  Know your material.  Know the salient points you’re trying to communicate.  Anticipate questions and formulate responses.  People hate showing up and feeling like their times been wasted because the leader doesn’t seem to have a clear agenda.
  2. Get revved up.  Have some energy for goodness sake.  Attending a meeting where the leader is monotone, or worse distracted or bored is a fate worse that death.  Show some energy, and respect, to those who have showed up at your request.
  3. Take frequent pauses and solicit responses.  No one likes to be lectured to, especially for 90 minutes – the average length of a business meeting in the U.S. according to the University of Tulsa.  Asking questions like “does that make sense?”, or “what do you think of that?” will keep people engaged and thinking.
  4. Take notes.  At the end of the meeting circle back to those who raised comments, concerns, opportunities, etc.  This lets the attendees know that when they are invited to one of your meetings they are engaged and expected to interact.
  5. Acknowledge great ideas.  The definition of “conference” is; a meeting of people to confer.  If you didn’t want anyones opinion you wouldn’t have asked them to join the meeting.  Even the best ideas, the best laid plans, the best strategies can be improved if you’re willing to listen.

Following these steps will keep your co-workers active and position you as a leader by demonstrating first and foremost your respect for everyone’s time, highlighted by your ability to efficiently navigate the team from topic to end-state.

 

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Tunnel Vision – A Salespersons Secret Weapon

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As the internet-of-everything continues to grow, and social media becomes more robust with each passing day, professionals in every industry are forced to embrace the art of multitasking. In fact, so much so that our society places the skill of multitasking on a pedestal – a Holy Grail if you will of those who are super-efficient. Look at a handful of resumes today and you’ll find candidates advertising their ability to perform a dozen tasks with accuracy and proficiency. But can they really? Can any of us be really good at anything when we’re focused on everything?

Successful salespeople do many things well but one common area of frustration that plagues many is the never ending struggle to focus. To have a singular focus – perhaps tunnel vision – on only one or two things at a time. Tunnel vision leads to a laser focus on what really matters. Would a golfer think of his/her next drive while still on the green putting for birdie? Would a heart surgeon be thinking of office payroll with a patient on the table and chest open? Let’s hope not. Tunnel vision, laser focus, or concentration can all be attributed to those who excel in their particular craft.

Try these 3 Tunnel Vision ideas to improve your performance:

  1. Shut off email while making prospecting calls. Email is one of the biggest distractions a salesperson deals with. What if my customer needs me? What about my referral sources calling me with a prospect? The human mind often tends to work in extremes. A “this or that” mentality. The reality is that things are rarely this or that. Start out by shutting off your email for an hour while making calls and then check it after an hour to see what items require your immediate attention or response.  You’re ability to stay focused on your calls in the absence of the “You-Got-Mail ding” will yield better results.
  2. The early bird does get the worm. Start your day early setting aside 20 – 30 minutes to read. Glance at the news, read some blogs, or finish a chapter or two of a sales focused book. Starting the day early allows you to tunnel your vision on tasks that will enhance your conversations and activities throughout the day.  If your calls begin at 8 am, start your work day at 7:30 am.  Notice I didn’t say start your day at 7:30 am as my assumption is that your day is starting somewhere around the 6 am hour if not earlier anyway.
  3. Prepare your call list the night before. Being able to start your day focused on making calls rather than preparing for them is another way to focus your attention on action-based tactics. Preparing a call list requires a different energy than making the calls themselves. Be sure when you’re making calls you’re focused on nothing but the calls themselves. Multitasking will be heard and felt by the receiver of the call and will most likely lead to poor outcomes.

Be confident in knowing that acting with tunnel vision will produce better results while multitasking only produces diluted results.  The power of focus will help you prioritize your tasks for the day by applying the most amount of energy and skill possible during those activities.