Analyze your meetings: Three strategies for more impact

Businessman Addressing Meeting Around Boardroom Table

One of the key tasks of a leader is to participate in meetings. Here you have to convince not only by presentations but also through careful interaction and discussions with the other participants.

Here are three strategies on how to convince in meetings and have more impact.

1) Words that count: say „Yeah“ more often

A study oft the Massachussets Instituts of Technology (see here and here) looked at the effectiveness of certain words in meetings.

The most effective words were „Yeah“ (as in „Yeah, that’s a good proposition“), „start“ („we should start with the implementation“) and „find“ (“I’m sure that we can find more goals for this product”).

What all oft these words have in common is that they are positive in nature. Although differences exists depending on country, organizational or team culture, a general focus on the positive (“Yes, and…”) can keep a discussion and a meeting in general flowing better than the negative (“No, but…”).

2) The rule of „3“

Often we get asked by other meeting participants or superiors to spontanously give a status update or our opinion. The reactions to that vary. Either sometimes they are too short (“hmm, it’s good.”). Or -more often- the curse of knowledge gets hold of the speaker and we hear a long-winded talk about all of the ins and outs of the project. Both are not too great.

Use the rule of three instead. If you’re being asked, for example:

„John/Mary, could you give us an update on project Albatros?“

Then always state three things, for instance

“Of course, three things are important: Firstly___________; Secondly___________; Thirdly___________“

For sure often you will have more things in your mind…but this often leads to the problem of endless talking. Rather, stop after these three (“these were my three things”) and you will be amazed not only how structured and efficient you will be perceived but also how powerful this kind of update is for the following discussion.

The three is a stick in the ground that takes out all of the doubt about what/how much you should communicate.

3) Get analytical: measure the % of your contributions

The German magazine Spiegel Online recently reported about the business life of managers. It turns out -surprise- that at least half of the time is spent in meetings.

Now we can discuss about the sense of these meetings. However, given the sheer volume of meetings it is evident that we should analyze our contribution and actions here in order to improve our impact.

One of the fundamental personal metrics in meetings is the % of own contributions in that meeting. This is for example clearly measured in parliaments and TV shows. But have you ever done the same in your meetings?

Try to analyze for example for one month what the average % of your contributions or “air time” is in comparison to the others. If it is below five per cent than you should probably ask yourself what you’ve been doing in these meetings.

If it’s above 20% in e.g. meetings with one average ten attendees then it’s maybe a question of over-dominance. Especially if you’re the person with the most “stripes on the shoulder” this kind of over-dominance in a meeting can be counter-productive.

In summary: analyze your meeting communication

The above points can help you optimize your meeting communication. Here a last point that you can do to optimize your meetings: One question that American Express Vice President Christopher Frank advises to ask at the beginning of a meeting is the following:

“In 5 words or less, what is this meeting about?” And everybody has to give an answer. You will be surprised by the answers and it will be a major step in the direction of alignment – or to leave the meeting.

Have success with your next business meeting!

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