How to make lots of accountants hate you

2nd March 2021

I used to be a Chartered Accountant (I know – I’m surprised too).

I then worked for a company that taught Accountants how to pass their professional exams.

All exam questions had the same layout – loads of info, and the questions underneath.

The best way to answer them was to go to the bottom to read the question, then go to the top and read the info – now knowing why you’re reading it.

But students often forgot and started reading at the top.

So one day, ten minutes before home time, I gave them a question I’d written. It was the longest one they’d seen – 12 pages. I told them they could leave as soon as they completed it.

All of them looked at me with utter hatred. How could I set such a long, hard question so close to home time?

Then one started laughing, walked to the front, handed in her answer sheet, and left.

She’d realised my trick. She’d looked at the bottom of page 12 and saw “Question: write your name – 100 marks”.

It’s the same with meetings. If you don’t know the Exam Question you’re hoping to answer, it’s just like 12 pages of info – all talk, but no point. And, as the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you end up somewhere else.

So next meeting…

Action Point

…read the Exam Question first. What’s the point of your meeting? Is it to make a decision? Agree an action? When you know this, you’ll get there much quicker.

(Oh, and if you realise the only point of your meeting was to “update each other”, maybe cancel the meeting, and write a memo!)

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