They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. If that's the case, our CEO Christian Cotichini might just hit 'grandmaster' status by 2020. From over 3 decades of serial entrepreneurship, mentoring and coaching teams, Christian has a wealth of experience which, like many things, is better when shared.
We interviewed Christian this week, and extracted a few best practices for running a killer front-stage meeting.
Front Stage Meeting:
A meeting where the result is in the hands of the ‘other' ie. a potential client, investor, interviewer.
The Art of Meeting
Meetings are a business activity that require planning, skill, direction and focus. In fact, taking the time to evaluate and master your meeting performance may be one of the best investments you can make. Books are dedicated to it (we recommend Death by Meeting). Elon Musk has even offered some punchy meeting advice;
"...limit it to 6... and walk out if nothing is being accomplished."
The state of your 'meet-ability' can both drastically affect the fate of your day, and your success as a business owner/entrepreneur, employee, manager or job seeker.
Process Makes Perfect
We receive a lot of positive feedback from clients about their experience in working with us. We believe this is in large part due to our solid meeting process (in addition to the fact that our team is made up of some pretty wonderful people of course).
Making the assumption that there is a basic understanding of the fundamentals; the meeting has been called, there is a schedule, an agenda and a goal. Whether the meeting is online or in person, the performance remains the same.
Create Situational Awareness
Imagine a battle. The leader of the battalion doesn't just show up to the battlefield and say 'alrighty then, let's fight!'. They spend hours strategically planning, considering the opponent, researching the geography and mapping out multiple battle strategies. Most importantly, they are clear on the outcome they are setting out to produce and they assign roles appropriate to the unique abilities of their unit. They aim to maximize the capabilities of each and very soldier. They ensure that the unit operates as a whole, and everyone has the same information about what they're walking into. Everyone is clear on the goal, and their role to win it.
- Host a pre-meeting briefing. Treat each meeting within the context of a ‘performance’. There are players on two sides, everyone has a goal - and a role to play.
- Assign a Moderator. This person is in charge of the meeting architecture. They own the agenda. They set the tone, make the introductions, keep the pace and energy going. They track time and have the ability to herd the sheep back to the barn if the conversation goes off the rails. They are responsible for, and listen for, the result. They bring the meeting to completion, and drive the players to next steps.
- Debrief after every meeting. Give everyone a chance to share what worked and what didn't, and capture improvements so that the performance is always escalating.
Take Ownership of the Performance
Let's get this down to brass tacks. If you think about it, you wouldn't be in the meeting unless you were clear you have something the other party needs. Take the view that the meeting is simply a bridge that your team is walking over, carrying the solution (the product, service etc.) that will solve the other party's problem.
- First and foremost, be on time. Nothing derails a meeting more than a sloppy start.
- Create Rapport. Introductions may be the most important building block of your meet-ability. How you introduce yourself and your team, sets the stage and tone and the other person tends to mirror and sets their dial to the same tone. Small talk is a trainable skill. Establish the idea that everyone leaves the meeting feeling a sense of completion, and educated on what you have to offer.
Tie into the Longer Conversation
Drive the conversation to next steps and action items. Be prepared with the call to action, the next step, schedule the next meeting right then and there if possible. And if the meeting ends with a 'no', hear it as 'no, not right now' and graciously thank everyone for their time. You never know what you'll say, do or be that sticks, but chances are if you've done a good job of all three, you'll be remembered when 'yes, now is the time' comes around.
"Success Is Going from Failure to Failure Without Losing Your Enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill
We are most passionate about sharing the tools of the trade - with an eye on transforming the way we work, build businesses, innovate (and of course, crowdsource!).