Meetings and Phone Calls
Ever play with the app “Garage Band”? It offers a variety of ways to lay down instrumental tracks. In the drum section, a simple clapping hand, or a syncopated beat with the full section playing is available. Coming to a meeting or a phone call unprepared is like coming with a simple clapping hand to a jam session with a garage band. A hand might be well played but how much better is the meeting or phone call with the assets of research, organization, analytics, thoughtfulness and an agenda? (A lot better).
Research: At a minimum understand the subject’s topology. Where are the mountains to climb, the valleys of death, the easy parts, the hard parts? Do not come to a call or meeting without understanding the space, or the “room” or expect to look unprepared, or worse, foolish.
Organization: Some Millenials and nearly everyone else inscribes what they know into hand-written entries. Today’s tools (One Note, Evernote, etc.) offer instantly searchable on any device ways of keeping notes. It isn’t possible to organize hand-written records and index them for immediate retrieval across years of work and multiple projects. Find an electronic note keeping application and use it. Not finding data when the moment is nigh is like asking to get engaged, but forgetting the ring. Forgetting the ring and information are hollow acts, demonstrating a casualness that belies serious engagement (pun intended).
Analytics: Regurgitating data at a granular level and expecting someone else to make sense of it indicates (pick one or more): 1) A lack of ability to understand the information, 2) Laziness, 3) A taker position (vs. giver). It is better to understand the data and give a high-level perspective to keep the conversation flowing.
Thoughtfullness: Think about the meaning of the information and analytics about the subject. Perhaps, on the face of it, sales are great, but in reality, the product is priced below cost. Whether or not the idea is the winner, thinking demonstrates focus, caring and attention to detail.
Agenda: Announced or casual agendas each have their place. An announced agenda is the one that is presented to the meeting, frequently a formal meeting. A casual agenda takes place in informal settings. The best casual lists are achieved in the natural flow of conversation without stress or striving. The leader might have a list and check off items on the list as the natural conversation encompasses them. The leader may direct the conversation if needed, but the feeling is collaborative and not “stiff.” Other casual agendas are those held by meeting goers, not leaders. The goers agenda comes up with nudging, still in natural speaking.
Example: In a staff telephone meeting, George says: “I talked to twenty customers and here is what each one of them said, please be patient while I find the notebook (s) and some of the information is scattered so, hold on while I run to the truck to find it”. Collective groans. Nancy says: “I spoke with twenty customers too. The prevailing sense is that our offer is attractive because 15 of the people I talked with gave me their credit card with 50% deposits. In my opinion, a 75% close rate is too high. There might be an opportunity to raise the price.”. While George off the call in his truck is searching, the president says: “Nancy, nice observation, I can tell you are thinking. Walk us through a typical sale please” Nancy: “Of course …” George gets back on the line as Nancy finishes. The President says “Thank you, Nancy. Listen, guys, I got to go. Before I do, Nancy, please see HR about a promotion, you have earned it.” George says “Hold on, I got my stuff”. But the President has already hung up and on to his next meeting.