Become a Meeting Ninja

8th August 2017

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re in a one-hour meeting. It drones on and on. Two minutes from the end, you realise people just aren’t shutting up. You know it’s going to overrun. Which’ll make you late for your next meeting. And the one after that. In fact, you won’t catch-up all day. So you’ll stay stressed all day. And then you’ll go home stressed. So, you’ll eat too much chocolate. And go to bed thinking “Worst. Day. Ever. And it’ll all happen again tomorrow.”

And that’d be bad enough.

But what makes this even worse is that this first meeting – the one that caused everything to overrun – wasn’t that good anyway. It wasn’t that interesting. There were no actions. Nobody enjoyed it much.

So the thing that caused your day to be so stressful – and made you overload on chocolate – wasn’t even good in the first place.

Now, there’s only one way to make sure this never happens again – and we really do need to make sure this never happens again – and it’s this:

       Know how to close a meeting. On time. With actions.

To achieve this, only two things matter:

  • When – start closing down the meeting 10-15 minutes before the end. Don’t leave it till the final minutes; and
  • What – know what to say, to close it down. If you don’t, when you get stressed as the meeting overruns, it’s hard to find the right words to stop it

Here’s one script I find works well:

  • With 15 minutes to go, say “I’m conscious of time” (People tend to look at their watches, realise the meeting’s nearly over, and start focusing on closing it down)
  • “So let’s quickly agree our actions before we go” (They agree. Who wouldn’t?)
  • “I think we’ve agreed X. Is that what you think?” (They’ll either agree – in which case, go to the next bullet. Or they won’t, in which case, ask “What do you think then?” Then discuss things until you agree)
  • “So what do you suggest our actions are?” (People are wedded to things they’ve come up with. So when they suggest actions, they’re more likely to do them. Plus, they’ll be more receptive to any actions you then suggest, since you listened to them first)
  • “Before we go, let’s diarise when we’re next going to meet – saves us playing Email Tennis later” (They get their diaries out, schedule the next meeting, and then we’re done)

Although I give this 15 minutes, it never takes that. It’s 5-10 max.

So another bonus: we finish early.

And everyone loves that.

Action Point

Script in advance how you’ll end your meetings. Then, use this script in your next meeting.

This leads to another useful tip: scripting is useful. It ensures you say the right thing when it matters.

That’s why my Online Video Club contains hundreds of word-for-word scripts you can use for all types of communication – how to start presentations, give powerful Elevator Pitches, sell yourself in interviews, start workshops with a bang, kick-off conference keynotes, generate referrals, ask for the sale, influence people to do what you want, and so on. You can get all these scripts here.

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