Start going the extra mile (because people usually don’t)

7th February 2017

I’ve asked thousands of people this question:

“Do you think you’re better than average at communicating?”

And how do you think everyone responds?

That’s right, it’s “Yep – I’m above average”

But that’s mathematically impossible. Half the people in the world will be below average. That’s what average means.

And then I ask:

       “When you communicate, do you go the extra mile?”

Again, everyone says they do.

But that can’t be true either. If it was, it wouldn’t be “extra” to do it.

No, sadly, half of us are below average. And very few of us go the extra mile.

Which, of course, means it’s extremely easy for you to stand out. All you have to do is go the extra mile – do things that most people don’t – and you stand out as being a good communicator.

For example, next time you organise a meeting, why not do some/more of the following (because most people don’t):

  • Be crystal clear on the outcome you’re looking to achieve after the meeting. That way, you’re focused on the end-point so the meeting will be quicker
  • Include this outcome in your meeting invitation beforehand – that gets buy-in early
  • Include this outcome in your meeting intro on the day – that means everyone instantly engages…
  • …And stop the meeting the minute you achieve the outcome. In other words, don’t just keep going until the scheduled end time (a good way to help achieve this – remove ‘Any Other Business’. That’s just a licence to spend ages discussing stuff not important enough to go on the agenda)
  • Invite as few people as possible – stops people wasting time when they didn’t need to be there
  • For those you do invite, individually tailor their invitation, so they know why they’re so critical to the meeting
  • For those you don’t invite but thought about doing, let them know the meeting’s happening, why you’re not taking their time by asking them to attend, and that you’ll send them the ‘Actions Arising’
  • Contact people the day before the meeting, to remind them of the meeting’s outcome. Also, tell them you’re starting on time and that you’re expecting to finish early
  • When they arrive, give them a pleasant surprise – something they don’t usually get at meetings they attend
  • Or if you’re creating a document/presentation for someone, agree with them beforehand:
  • The purpose – in other words, what they want the reader to do after they’ve read it
  • The structure/headings – so, what content do they want in there (and – equally importantly – the content they don’t)
  • How long they want it to be
  • The tone/formality

Then, after you’ve agreed all this:

  • Diarise time now to prepare the document. After all, if you don’t, you’ll have to cram it into an otherwise busy day – that isn’t going the extra mile
  • After you’ve created the skeleton for the first draft, contact them and check they’re OK with how it’s going
  • Finish it 2-3 days early if possible – to give you time to practise
  • Also, diary-remind yourself to call them before they present it, to wish them luck
  • And diary-remind yourself to call afterwards – ‘how did it go?’
  • Once it’s been delivered, offer to help again

You could think of your own lists, of course. All I did when creating mine was to think “What do other people really want me to do when I communicate with them that (1) will hugely help them but that (2) most other people don’t do?

And that helped me go the extra mile.

Which put me above average.

What about you?

Action point

Today, you’ll be in meetings, preparing documents etc. So go the extra mile. Use some of the bullets in this tip – or ideas of your own – to impress everyone you speak with.
And, to help you go the extra mile every day – not just immediately after reading this tip – here’s a huge bank of resources to give you regular reminders when it matters.

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