Is it Time to Wrangle Your Team’s Life-sucking Meetings?

September 20, 2016 in Author, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Posts for Buyers

Frustrated businessman in an office business meetingOver the weekend I was having coffee on the deck with our friends, Paul and Olive. We were discussing the week ahead.

“I have nothing but meetings lined up next week,” Paul said. “I hate meetings. People show up late. Nothing ever gets done. Decisions aren’t made. And no one does what they’re supposed to do. And all of that just means that we’re going to have the same meetings next week and the week after that. It never ends.”

Paul’s not alone. Meetings can suck the life right out of you.

I was in a separate conversation not too long ago with a client. Because of some recent remote hiring, they were laying the framework for moving almost exclusively to virtual team meetings. The client said, “It’s as if we need to learn new etiquette for showing up to the meeting. In terms of meeting virtually, should the way we work together be any different than meeting in person?”

My answer was, “No. Not really.” Sure, the mechanics of meeting virtually are different, but the same rules of engagement should apply.

The challenge is that we’ve become so messy with our in-person meetings that we’ve forgotten about common courtesy and how to lead and participate in a way that gets business done.[Tweet “We’ve become so messy with our in-person meetings that we’ve forgotten about common courtesy”]

It’s Not Just the Meeting Facilitator’s Responsibility

Most advice for effective business meetings is focused on meeting facilitators. We think it’s time that everyone be aware of how to run meetings AND attend them. We’ll even take it one step further and say that it ultimately lands on business leaders – all the way up the corporate ladder – to set enterprise-wide expectations.

If we look to our friends at The Emily Post Institute, THE authority on all things etiquette, they say that all manners rest on “fundamental principles: respect, consideration, and honesty.”

That’s a pretty good set of principles for leading and attending meetings. Building off of their definition of etiquette, here are Turpin’s recommendations for wrangling business meetings. We break it down into three groups: Attendees, Facilitators, and Business Leaders.

All Attendees
Show respect for your fellow attendees and for the work you’re there to accomplish:

  • Arrive on time and be prepared to participate fully.
  • Silence your devices and put them down. Seriously. Just. Do. It.
  • Listen intently… always.
  • Be courteous and helpful.
  • Speak up when appropriate to do so, and don’t be the one who talks just for talking’s sake.
  • Take notes. You’re busy and forgetful. You might need notes later, and even if you don’t, the act of writing them down helps keep you engaged.
  • Avoid sidebars that distract from the meeting’s intention.

Meeting Leaders and Facilitators
Create the conditions for a fruitful conversation and for decision-making:

  • Prepare an agenda and use it as your map for the conversation.
  • Greet meeting attendees as they enter the room (or log in virtually).
  • Encourage attendees’ participation without losing sight of the group and the goals of the meeting.
  • Keep an eye on the clock, and do not run over unless the situation REALLY warrants it.
  • Keep an ongoing list of decisions and assign tasks with dates as you go along. Be sure to communicate these afterward and set expectations for completion.

Business Managers and Leaders
Set expectations enterprise-wide, or at least with your team:

  • If you’re lucky to start from scratch, set expectations early.
  • If you’re inheriting a dysfunctional meeting culture, try your best to level-set by setting expectations early and often.
  • Have the team create a meeting rule book and use it when you have to course correct.
  • Place value on well-run meetings.
  • Place value on respectful meeting behaviors.

The Time is Now

Meetings don’t have to suck, and improving them requires the active and thoughtful participation of all attendees.

As a leader, it starts with you. Your business needs you. What are you going to do to breathe new life into your team’s meetings?

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Introducing the New Workshop Catalog by Turpin Communication

September 1, 2015 in Greg Owen-Boger, News, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Talent Development, The Orderly Conversation, Training

At Turpin Communication, we recognize the complexity and challenges of the work our clients do. Because of this, our workshops have always been highly tailored to the unique situations they face.

Now, we’ve made it easier for you to recognize how we can help you meet your business goals.

Workshop Catalog 2015The New Workshop Catalog

We’ve broken the new workshop catalog into three categories to match the type of speakers we work with: Business Presenters, Meeting Facilitators, and Trainers. Each of those categories is further broken down to focus on a specific type of speaker or business goal. For example:

Presentation Training for Sales Professionals focuses on the practical skills it takes to facilitate high-stakes sales situations.

Presenting to Leadership and Other Decision Makers provides foundation-level training to help participants speak clearly and concisely to time-crunched executives.

Does your team need to work on their executive presence? We’ve got you covered.

Do your managers have to collaborate with virtual teams? We have support for that too.

We also have workshops designed to help new and “accidental” trainers be more effective in the training room.

Learn More

This is only a sampling of the 28 newly designed and updated workshops we now offer. We invite you to take a peek at all of our workshop titles. Then give us a call so that we can tailor training to meet the exact needs of your team.

About Turpin Communication

Turpin Communication is a distinctly different presentation and facilitation skills training company, and we’re dedicated to helping people get business done.

If you’re familiar with our work, you know that we are guided by three principles:

  1. Presentations are less like speeches and more like Orderly Conversations.
  2. Our approach preserves every presenter’s personality and natural communication style. We call it: Find your focus. Be Yourself. Only better.
  3. Business presentations succeed on two levels: (1) was the goal met? And (2), did the speaker create the conditions for a fruitful conversation to take place?

More detail about our guiding principles and how they can be applied to your work can be found on the home page of Turpin Communication.

3 Smart Strategies for Conducting Meetings People Won’t Hate

February 2, 2015 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Meetings

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorI listened to a really interesting NPR story last week about workday meetings. It said that, “the average American office worker spends more than nine hours of every week preparing for, or attending, project update meetings.” That’s a lot of time. And the problem, as the story pointed out, is that most of these meetings last too long, they don’t accomplish much, and are run poorly. Much of the blame was placed on a lack of awareness among meeting facilitators.

So, if you run meetings, what are you to do? What should you be more aware of?

First, assume that the people you’re meeting with would rather be somewhere else … and that’s OK.

Don’t take it personally. People are busy, and meetings burn through a lot of time and energy. By making this assumption, you’re reminding yourself that it’s your job to keep things efficient and relevant for everyone. This might change the length of time you schedule the meeting for or the people you choose to invite.

Second, talk about the meeting process … not just the topic.

Talking about what’s going to happen and what is happening during the meeting will make it easier for everyone to engage and participate. Plus, you’ll sound like you know what you’re doing.

  1. Review your agenda when the meeting begins.
  2. State the goal of the meeting and—just as important—what you need from the group to reach that goal.
  3. When the meeting is over, clarify next steps and bring things to a close. Don’t rehash meeting content or bring in new information when everyone is ready to leave.

Third, stay on track or decide not to … either way, make it a choice.

  1. It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutia of meeting content, but, as the person running the meeting, keep things going in the right direction. When the group goes off on a tangent, think about whether the tangent is necessary to reach your goal. If so, let it happen. If not, rein them in. Question your gut reaction to the tangent. It may be leading you in the wrong direction.
  2. If you are the one wandering off track, though, stop it.

Remember, it’s your responsibility to communicate a sense of efficiency and relevance. When you do, you will create the conditions for a fruitful, efficient meeting.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”