Are Your Meetings One Way Traffic

You may not consciously acknowledge a meeting with co-workers as ‘public speaking’, but fear of public speaking may be the cause of it going off into a ditch.

Imagine you are a car.    Every time you parked yourself in a staff meeting, one of your panels got dinted.  Nothing big – just a little dint to your confidence in achieving a positive outcome on a project…a little scratch to your respect for a manager…a bump to your sense of worth as a member of the team. 

One bad meeting – is no problem, they’ll soon buff out. 

But week after week of dints, scratches and bumps means eventually you’ll become a write off!   The starry-eyed go-getter you were when you started is just a tiny spec in the rear view mirror.   Before you know it, you’re cruising the backstreets of LinkedIn looking for a new garage (where, in a very short amount of time, it’s all going to start all over again…new garage, same dints).

So how do you know if your meetings are on the road to success…or driving people towards the off-ramp?

Get off the roundabout for a second and check under the hood.

While there are as many problems and solutions for cohesive and constructive meetings as there are people on the planet attending them….there is a fairly sure sign of danger:

One Way Traffic

When you’re the meeting facilitator, there’s nothing worse than being the only one contributing, so you need to ask yourself WHY.

Honking your own horn – are you the only one speaking, because you haven’t stopped long enough for others to contribute?   You need to ask yourself, are you holding a ‘meeting’ or a ‘briefing’.   If it’s a meeting, then you’re asking for others input, sharing and discussion (two way street).  If it’s a briefing, then you’re informing or instructing (one way street).   Both are appropriate, as long as the attendees know the purpose going in – make it clear BEFOREhand, what will be expected.    

Attendance vs Attention – it’s the number one rule of the road, don’t use your device while driving.   The same applies to meetings.  On the road, you could kill someone…in a meeting, you completely kill the vibe (multitasking my ass – it’s just rude!).  Agree to go device-free and discover the difference.

Jekyll and Hyde – this person is great in their role, they have shared innovative ideas or important opinions outside of meetings – but the minute you throw to them to share with the group…crickets…they leave you hanging.  OR they may even seem irritated or aggressive, with short, clipped responses.   In this case, ‘it’s not you, it’s them’ applies.   This team member may have a fear of public speaking, that extends to even small groups of people.   (Get them to call me!)

Eight Mississippi Experiment – when you ask a question of the group, are you giving them long enough to respond?   When you’re in a meeting situation, 8 seconds may seem like an awkward silence, but if you can ask your question and then wait it out, you will be amazed at the responses that start to come back and the conversations that may ensue (that would never have surfaced if you’d only waited 3 Mississippi’s).

If you can incorporate these tactics to turn one way traffic into two way – you’ll be a long way down the road to meeting success….and hopefully with a lot less off-ramping.

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