Be childish. People attend your meetings when you are

15th March 2016

Two of my family received invitations yesterday.

One was to my daughter Maia. An invite to a birthday party. It was beautifully presented, personalised, and explained all the exciting things Maia would be doing at it. It was even good for her parents – there were clear contact details, we could easily confirm she was coming.

Maia was excited to get it – “Daddy, I can’t wait to go to this”

But at the same time she got her invitation, I got one too.

It was to a meeting.

The invitation was headed “Update”.

And that was it.

It didn’t say who’d be updating whom. Nor about what. Or why.

It wasn’t beautifully presented. In fact, it looked pretty abrupt… as though no thought had gone into it.

It wasn’t personal. It was clearly one of those “I’ll invite everyone. That way, nobody can complain about being excluded”

It didn’t explain all the exciting things I’d be doing at it. In fact, it didn’t list anything – exciting or otherwise.

It didn’t tell me how to accept the invite. Or whether I needed to do anything before it. Or during it.

It was, in short, rubbish.

And – believe this if you can – I wasn’t excited to get it. Nor did I say “Maia, I can’t wait to go to this.”

And so here’s a quick question for you:

When you invite people to meetings, which of these two invitations sound most like yours?

Do you spend time ensuring they impress? Are you clear on how attendees will benefit? Do you tell them the exciting things they’ll be doing? Do you make them feel wanted?

And if your calendar invitations don’t include these, let me guess: people turn up late to your meetings. Or they’re unprepared. Maybe some cancel at the last minute… sometimes with no explanation.

Your meetings are your fault. If they work well, that’s because of you. If they don’t, that’s also because of you.

And your invitation plays a pivotal role in setting them up for success (or otherwise).

If Maia had received a bland email-invite which contained only one word – “Coming?” – she wouldn’t have been so excited.

Now, I’m not suggesting you hand-write pink, sparkly invitations to your meetings. But, if you want people to put effort into coming to them, you’ll have to put effort into getting them there.

Action point

Look at your diary for the next meeting you organised. Re-read your invite. If it’s weak, edit and re-send it. Both they and you will benefit when you do.

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