Day 19: Productive Meetings (revisited 2013)

So as we go into the weekend I am not sure how many of you will see this post. I actually had several meetings today and yes they were all very productive based on the tips I state below. These guidelines have become a habit for me but if they are new to you remember it takes at least 21 days to form a habit. This means you will need to practice the tips below.

My meetings have been extremely productive since I implemented this in my daily meeting routine that I started in 2009. Keep in mind that you won’t always have a productive meeting but when that happens remember to always assess, review and then go at it again. It’s a lot like getting bucked from a horse. If you fall off the  best thing you can do is get up, dust yourself off and get back on the same horse, again.

So go forth, have fun over the weekend and attack your Monday meetings by implementing some of the suggestions below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALes Adkins is the CEO of Orange SMS Consulting and an International Social Business Strategist, speaker, consultant and author. Bringing strategy and whole brain thinking to creative campaigns and social media through his work. Please follow @mysylbert and connect on LinkedIn Join us on FB and Google+ as well.

(Original Post – Posted on October 27, 2011)

The other day I had 3 very productive meetings. Why were they so productive you ask? Well let me tell you.

First I had an objective for each meeting. In other words I had a specific outcome that I productive-business-meetingwanted to have for each meeting.

Second I had a Plan A and a Plan B. Meaning that if I did not achieve my main objective I had a back up objective. So an example would be if I wanted a meeting to have the outcome of becoming my client and if that didn’t happen my Plan B would be to schedule another meeting within the next two weeks. See how that works.

Having a productive meeting is not that difficult but you do have to plan for them. Here is a great diagram to show you how a productive meeting should be run.

(Click photo below to make bigger)

A couple of other things to remember before we leave about productive meetings.

  • Make sure you spend some time building a relationship or rapport with the people you are meeting with.
  1. I had a relationship with one of the people who I met with that ended up exceeding my objectives.
  2. Get a referral or introduction from a person you both hold in high regard. This gives you an automatic relationship.
  3. Find common ground. Something you are both interested in like a hobby or an activity or a trend in the business that you are discussing.
  • Use a Whole Brain Approach. 

I have talked about this quite often but the easiest way to explain the Whole Brain Approach, by (Ned Herrmann) with Herrmann International, is to show you this diagram that describes thinking preferences. Please contact me if you are interested in determining what your thinking preference is.

This logo is trademark protected under Herrmann International

  • Be Present

Have you ever been with a friend or spouse and you know they are looking at you and pretending to be there but they are not? This is what I mean. Be present, be in the moment of the meeting. Don’t let your mind wander.

  • Actively Listen

Active (Empathetic) Listening is where an individual confirms they have heard and understood by summarizing and paraphrasing the information back to the speaker.

I think “actively listening” is the most important part of having a productive meeting! Here are 7 ways to become a better listener.

  1. Be Legitimately Interested– Put yourself in the speaker’s place and make his or her problems your own. The speaker will consciously or subconsciously pick up on this and you will learn more from the conversation.
  2. Accept the Speaker’s Point-Of-View – Some of us have the desire to get our point across and want to add a word in for every sentence spoken. Even if you disagree with the speaker’s stance on a subject, allow him or her to finish their thought before voicing your disagreement, and then only if necessary. Remember, you are trying to be a listener, not partake in the discussion.
  3. Use Body Language, Eye Contact and Repetition – Using body language and eye contact the right way can really have an impact on the speaker. To show you are listening and interested, lean slightly forward in your chair. Make consistent eye contact, but do not stare. Make noises like “mm-hmm” or say “I see,” and frequently paraphrase what was just said.
  4. Go Beyond the Words – Good listeners are actively thinking not just about what was said but also why and how it was said. Why did this person come to you to talk {or be heard}? Is there excitement in their voice? Resentment? Jealousy? Once you determine the motive of the speaker, can you react more smoothly to their words.
  5. Avoid Planning Counter-arguments – It is a natural response to automatically start planning a counter-argument as soon as something is mentioned. As hard as it may seem, don’t. Mentally record your disagreement and formulate a response later after the whole message has been received.
  6. Be Aware of Your History with the Speaker – Think about how your history with the speaker may affect what is being said. Is there potential for flared feelings? Sympathy? Fear? Figuring this out will help you better understand the speaker’s motives and, thus, respond accordingly.
  7. Ask Questions – If there is something said that is not clear to you, ask for clarification. Be careful not to use questions to rebut or represent your point-of-view. Only ask questions that’ll help your understanding of what the speaker is saying.                                 – Extract from “Active Listening, Tim Bridge of PersonaDev”

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