12 Acts Of Courage To Change Meetings For Good

Research shows that a great percentage of meetings are run poorly, resulting in huge losses of time and productivity. I believe that there are three main reasons that meetings continue to leave us wanting:

1) We underestimate the complexity of group thought.

2) Few of us are trained in meeting facilitation skills.

3) Boggled by group complexity and lacking requisite skills, we fall into dysfunctional patterns, failing to do anything to change meeting dynamics.

Given that there are eight times more participants than there are meeting leaders in your average group, targeting meeting leaders alone to improve meetings may be missing the mark.

What if we were to arm meeting participants with the basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes they could use to keep their groups on track and moving forward? The 12 Acts below were written to do just that, and to frame leadership as a quality anyone can exercise, no matter what their official position.

Act I: K-No-w It. Know what honors you and your time and to say “no” to everything else. Learn enough about the purpose of a meeting before it happens to make an educated decision around your potential contribution. This indirectly calls the meeting organizers to a higher level of clarity around their purpose—which is essential for the success of any meeting.

Act II: Ask for It. Get your agenda on the agenda. Get your personal and professional agenda added to the meeting agenda. Boldly asking for what you want provides the direction and energy that’s often lacking in meetings.

Act III: Prepare For It. Tap into your meeting genius by being thoroughly prepared. Knowing what and whom you need to know so that you are properly prepared for a meeting allows you to gracefully respond to challenges.

Act IV: Adjust Your Att-It-ude. Be curious, observant, and patient. The mindset from which you make interventions as a group member has a strong bearing on your success. Come from a place of curiosity when making suggestions and you will likely be heard. Be observant and patient to free yourself from judgments that limit your relationships, and to give others the chance to change.

Act V: Say It. Realize and express your truth in service to the group. For most of us, speaking out publicly is of our greatest fear. Getting clear about why you're afraid to speak, when it's time to speak, and how to do so makes expressing your truth much easier.

Act VI: Focus It. Focus your group on a common vision. Vigilantly challenge your groups to be clear on their objectives and to improve how they work together and you will set the stage for your group to actually get better over time.

Act VII: Park It. Keep your group on target by avoiding tangents. In a world ruled by distractions, it’s tough to avoid detours on the way to your objectives. A Parking Lot can help keep your group on course while respecting and capturing ideas outside the scope of the agenda.

Act VIII: Contain It. Contain group energy within operating norms. Effective groups need operating norms to establish healthy boundaries. Norms hedge against dysfunctional behavior that dilutes physical and emotional energy, while still offering participants the space to creatively pursue their objectives.

Act IX: Deliver It. Convert talk into action, decisions into deeds. One of the biggest complaints leveled against meetings is that, "Nothing ever happens!" Participants become disillusioned and tune out when this becomes the norm. Ask questions to encourage action in your groups.

Act X: In It, Not Of It. Avoid groupthink and access group mind—the way to enlightened decisions. The tendency to maintain harmony at all costs can harm your groups and the victims of your group’s decisions. Understand the symptoms and remedies of groupthink to stay connected to your group’s collective conscience.

Act XI: Facilitate It. Facilitate full participation. Fully participating group members support decisions made, offer access to the collective wisdom and experience of the group, and reduce the possibility of groupthink. As a participant, learn strategies to assure that full participation is achieved.

Act XII: It’s All Good. Transform conflict into a spirit of collaboration. Healthy conflict is an essential ingredient for group collaboration. Unhealthy conflict, that is conflict involving a winner and a loser, should be avoided. Adopt an attitude that any fight you engage in must be a fight to win--to a win that benefits all concerned.

These 12 Acts are thoroughly explained in my new book, This Meeting Sux…12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good. This book provides you with specific tools, strategies, language, and actions you can use as an empowered, facilitative participant to change your meetings and your life for good. Pick up the book, or the first three chapters for free at http://www.ThisMeetingSux.com.

Steve Davis, M.S., M.A. is the founder of FacilitatorU.com, a virtual university offering training, tools, and resources to group facilitators, trainers, consultants, coaches, and leaders. Steve consults with organizations and individuals and offers workshops, training, and coaching to enhance leadership and collaboration skills.

Blast Off to Big Results: Openings Set the Tone

When you stand up to speak, you have no guarantees that your audience will listen intently to your every word. We all know that behind those "I'm-all ears" looks, your listeners' minds can wander. Think about how much your mind has wandered during other people's presentations!

You can't gain support, sell ideas, or push a new initiative if people aren't listening. So, it's your job to shatter that fixed facade, grab your listeners' attention, and hold on tight. You have to earn their attention right from the beginning of your talk. Here's how:

Plan. Plan your opening words carefully. Don't stumble into your presentation with a hackneyed "Today, I'm going to talk about..." Say something meaningful (even bold!) that will grab the attention of your audience immediately. Don't lead up to it with trivialities. Think about your audience's single biggest concern within your topic, and speak directly to it. There are a lot of different ways to open a talk; just make sure you ichoose one that begins with substance and matters to your listeners.

Rehearse. Stand up and deliver your opening out loud several times prior to the talk. Make sure you can do it comfortably and reliably. For most people, the first words of a presentation are the hardest. Make certain you know yours well enough so you don't have to worry about them. By spending extra rehearsal time on your opening, you can turn the hardest part of your talk into the easiest.

Get ready. When the time comes to deliver your presentation, you will want to be focused, in control of your voice, your body language, and those pre-presentation jitters. So, before you stand up to speak, practice some "stage fright" prevention. Use our tips for breathing easily to warm up. If you have a chance to exercise or go for a walk before your presentation, do it. It's important that your mind and your body are ready to deliver a powerful presentation when you arrive in the room.

Connect. Make an immediate connection with your audience. Look 'em in the eye. Before you begin, find a "focus person" for your opening. The focus person should be someone who is sitting toward the back of the room and roughly in the center. Ideally, this should be a person who will listen attentively and will be a friendly face for your first sentence or two. Remember to establish your eye focus first, then take a fresh breath, and, only after you have a full tank of air, begin to speak.

Leap. As much as possible, jump right into your talk. Get right to the point. Try to avoid any long preambles or explanations. Deliver your opening just as you've practiced it, right to your focus person. Once you've landed your opening, the rest of your presentation is more likely to go smoothly. And, you will have gained the attention of the audience right from the start of your talk.

Stop ... and go. After you deliver your opening, pause. Let your words sink in for a second or two. Next, link that opening to the body of your presentation. Make sure your audience sees how your opening leads into your first point. There's nothing worse than gearing everyone up with a great opener, only to let everyone down by wandering off on other track.

And they're off... You delivered your opening and linked it to your first point. You've set the stage for your success. You've got momentum heading into the body of your presentation. You're out of the gate and rounding the bend. Just make sure to keep your head up, eyes focused on your audience, and charge ahead with an energetic and effective presentation.

 

570 Grand Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07361
www.ecglink.com

Copyright © 2004 E.C.G., Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published, or broadcast for any commercial purpose without specific written permission. We invite you to use our articles, without modification, for noncommercial purposes, provided there is adequate attribution and a link back to our web site (we only request that you inform us of any such use). In addition, we welcome appropriate links to our site from other sites

Your Flagship Product from Pivotal

Your Flagship Product

Your Flagship Product from Pivotal

In a conversation with someone last week, the topic of a "flagship product" came up and I realized that I had never really talked about this before in More Clients.

What's a flagship product?

A flagship product is a product or service that you and your business becomes identified with. It's something that communicates a concept or a solution that people automatically and favorably associate with you.

What a flagship product does is give you and your business instant credibility. When people purchase your flagship product, they are more likely to buy other products and services from you.

A flagship product should have the following characteristics:

1. It provides a unique solution or approach to a problem and is seen as new and memorable.

2. It is the starting point for all of your other spinoff  products or services.

3. It is branded in a distinctive way with a name and identity that is unlike other products or services.

What are some examples of flagship products by InfoGurus? Here are a few that immediately spring to mind:

Guerrilla Marketing - This book, by Jay Conrad Levinson, written in the 80's, has spawned a whole series of Guerrilla Marketing books and seminars. It's become a household name amongst small business owners.

Make Your Site Sell - An e-book launched in 2000 by Ken Evoy that established him as one of the preeminent Internet Gurus and was the genesis of       several other e-books and online products.

The Millionaire Mind - Harv Eker's free three-day workshop on changing your mindset about money. Tens of thousands have attended and it's been a launching pad for his other programs.

     The Wizard of Ads - The brilliant compilation of eZine articles was the first of three books in the series by Roy Williams, and the foundation for his 3-day Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas.

The InfoGuru Marketing Manual - The starting point for most of the customers and clients of Action Plan Marketing. Most people who take my workshops or Marketing Action Groups get this first.

Most of these are marketing-oriented examples off the top of my head, as that's the world I'm most familiar with. But if you look at your particular field, there are usually a few InfoGurus who are well known for some kind of flagship product.

I had been in business for 15 years before I launched my manual. Others take longer, some shorter. But however long it takes, it's a worthwhile goal to aspire to. It will give you leverage you can get no other way.

Your flagship product may be a book, an e-book, a workshop or training program. But it really has to be at the heart of the work you do and must have some passion behind it.

I once worked with a woman who had spent a year writing a book but who really didn't want to work with clients in that area. In other words, her flagship sank! There was nowhere she could sail it to leverage her own business.

Coming up with a new concept takes some time and creativity, but it's certainly worth the effort. Coining the word "InfoGuru" seemed like a gamble at the time (one of those titles that came to me in the shower) but I think it's better than many books or e-books that are completely generic and therefore unmemorable.

Not only has the manual served my business well in terms of being a foundation for all my products and programs, it has earned me substantial income over the past five years. A flagship product can create real marketing momentum.

Oh, here's another one:

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray. This  wildly successful book on relationships was the first of many other Mars-Venus Books. In fact, every book John now writes contains that flagship identity. I'm waiting for "Marketing Secrets of Mars and Venus." I'll get that one!

What's your flagship product going to be?

*

The More Clients Bottom Line: The time to start working on a flagship product or service is NOW! It will make a huge long-term impact on your business. Find a way of developing something that stands out from everything else and you're on your way.

Robert Middleton - Action Plan Marketing
Helping Independent Professionals Attract More Clients
http://www.actionplan.com