Surprising things tennis teaches us about comms

20th October 2020

The serve’s the most important shot in tennis. Two reasons:

  1. It dictates the point – serve well, you should win; serve badly, you won’t
  2. It’s the only shot where you aren’t responding to your opponent’s shot. So if you serve badly, that’s your fault – not theirs

This is a great analogy for Sentence #1 in a meeting:

  • Start well, the meeting should go well; start badly, it won’t
  • Your intro is the only time when you aren’t responding to what anyone’s said. So if you start badly, that’s your fault – not theirs

The importance of the serve is why tennis players practise it so much.

But do you practise the opening sentence of your meetings?

Probably not.

Most people don’t.

That’s one of the reasons meetings start with low energy, and go downhill from there.

The solution’s simple. Script and practise your opening.

After all, if you start with “I thought we’d do something different in this week’s meeting – we’ll probably finish early”, things’ll probably go well.

But if you start with “Same stuff, different week. We’ll try and be done on time”, things probably won’t.

Roger Federer is better at tennis than I am at … well, anything. And he still practises his serve.

Are you practising your serves enough?

Action Point

For your next meeting, script and practise your start.

There are lots more examples of how to engage here.

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