Why people turn up to your meetings in the wrong frame of mind – and what to do about it

1st March 2016

Imagine you wake up one Tuesday morning. You look at your calendar for the day. And you see the first appointment is a one-hour meeting called ‘Update’.

Do you think ‘YES! It’s today!’

Didn’t think so.

Calendar appointments set expectations for what the meeting will be like.

Let’s face it, calling it ‘Update’ or ‘Meeting’ doesn’t help. Nobody reading calendar entries gets excited by words like that.

But also nobody writing them tries to make them exciting.

So they aren’t.

Instead, here’s a much better approach to inviting people:

  1. Include the output of the meeting in the title – ‘A quick chat to find new, easy ways to hit target’; ‘Meeting to agree our next actions to embed our strategy’ etc
  2. Use the notes section. Writing something here takes you seconds only. But it gets people looking forward to your meeting. And therefore turning up to it. And on time.

Here’s a quick example:

Purpose: to make it easier for all of us to hit target
Promise: after this meeting, I promise we’ll all have 2-3 new ideas we can use immediately

  1. Everyone has 45 seconds max to share three things – their biggest success since our last meeting; their top tip/technique for hitting target; and their biggest challenge with hitting target
  2. We each agree new techniques we’ll use going forward. These techniques will either come from listening to others’ ideas, or coming up with new ones in our meeting
  3. We help each other overcome our challenges
  4. We agree our actions, timelines etc

Maximum duration: I’ve put in 20 minutes. But I expect it to take less

Essential pre-work: prep for agenda item #1. Make sure you can cover all three things in 45 seconds max

Questions/thoughts/concerns: give me a buzz if you have any – telephone 012 345 6789012 345 6789

As I say, this is just an example. Choose the words that’ll work best for you.

But remember: the ultimate aim of a calendar invitation is to ensure:

  • The right people
  • Turn up at the right time
  • In the right frame of mind
  • Having done the right prep

The one word ‘Meeting’ just doesn’t achieve this!

Action point

Review your meeting invites. Are they exciting with a clear purpose/promise? Or do they look like the typical corporate ‘we’re discussing these topics’.
Then, amend them so people look forward to coming along.

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