You’re holding a meeting. Suddenly you notice their eyes are glazed over. You hear the soft z-z-z-z sound of snoozing. That’s when you know — you’re in a boring update meeting. There’s a better way, and it’s surprisingly easy to organize. Today’s post is a quick guide.
Here’s an idea you may not have considered, one that’s pretty radical coming from a company that specializes in meetings:
Cancel your next update meeting.
That’s right. Just don’t meet. If your team needs an update, send a memo. Or a spreadsheet. Or a group voicemail, recorded video, or audio file. But don’t force them to listen to boring updates.
From education to transformation
Not very lofty goals.
There’s a worthier goal for your update meeting: transformation. Make up your mind to change their hearts, minds, and actions. Here’s how.
1. Develop a strong point of view
A transformation meeting can be risky. Why? Because you may the one who needs transforming. Your point of view may be misguided. Or unrealistic. Or just plain wrong. So if you have a fragile ego, you may want to stick with boring update meetings.
But if you are truly open to honest feedback and meaningful collaboration, you must be willing to put yourself out there. So consider the facts and develop an opinion about what’s right for the organization. Then come up with a way to state your strong opinions while leaving the door open for feedback and debate.
2. Support your ideas
Before you present your point of view, do your homework. Then see if your research covers the basic elements of persuasive argument:
- Claim – What is true? This element is a statement you intend to prove. It’s impossible to prove a vague idea, so state your claim as clearly and accurately as possible. Example: Coffee drinkers are irritating people.
- Warrant – Why is the claim true?This element is like a subtitle for your claim. Example: The caffeine in coffee can cause nervousness.
- Evidence – Where’s your proof? Is your claim based on personal experience? Or can you cite an expert? Do you have research to support your claim? Example: In a scientific study, Dr. Dunkin Starbuck found coffee drinkers tend to be more jittery than the general population.
- Impact – What does it all mean? This element completes the circle of proof. Example: Jittery people tend to make those around them jittery too.
This structure is thousands of years old and has been wired into the way we think. Without it, your audience will have trouble accepting your point of view.
3. Get ready for resistance
OK, coffee is a dumb example, but you get the point, right? If I presented it seriously, coffee drinkers would reject my argument. Your meeting will be no different. Certain people will resist your message. That’s OK — disagreements add energy. But be careful how you handle them. If you’re the boss, it’s tempting to squash competing opinions. But as Dale Carnegie observed, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
So think through the objections you may encounter. You may choose to bring up certain objections and answer them as part of your presentation. Sales pros call this “unplugging the objection,” and it works beautifully. Or you may choose to wait for a participant to bring up an objection, for which you’ll have a ready answer. And if someone brings up an objection you haven’t thought of, handle it with grace. Don’t try to prove the person wrong, just answer it. And have the humility to realize that it may be an opportunity to change your mind and admit your point of view is wrong.
Compare and contrast
Another helpful technique is to present alternative points of view. It proves you’re a fair-minded person who has considered all the angles. Give a fair assessment of the pros and cons of each. But let your attendees know your opinion. You’re there to advocate a specific point of view.
4. Create a clear future
There may be a flurry of discussion. Or your attendees may cheerfully adopt your point of view, grateful you’ve taken the time for a reasoned argument.
Either way, your meeting isn’t over until everyone agrees about next steps — even if the next step is for everyone to think about it until the next meeting and be ready to cast their vote.
Make a difference
Does this seem like a lot of work? It is. But it’s the work of leadership. Your new focus on transformation will energize your meeting. And your team. Maybe your whole company.
You may even transform your entire industry.
So stop holding boring meetings. Start changing hearts and minds. Your next meeting could be the start of something big!