Let’s face it, Meetings are broken… and after 20+ years of working in offices, I’ve grown to really hate them. I think you probably feel the same way.
Meetings are the big white elephant in the office that eats up a ridiculous amount of people-hours, where everyone is checking their laptops and phones or dreaming about the weekend - they are multitasking, not listening.
And then, every so often you have one of those really awful meetings. You know the type...
...Those time-wasting, directionless, repetitious, energy draining, zombie type meetings where "deep dives," "circling back" and "putting stuff in the parking lot" often mean much is spoken about, little is decided, and everybody leaves feeling broken...and probably late for their next meeting :)
There must be a better way.
It’s like when you were ill as a kid. You mum looked after you and apart from letting you watch TV, and wiping your sweaty brow, she probably gave you bowls of Chicken Soup to make you feel better.
Chicken Soup has been the go-to remedy for sick people across countries and borders as well as generations.
Well, we need some Chicken Soup for Meetings.
If I could wave my magic wand I’d make all meetings 10 minutes where there is a short discussion to make a decision. Information is distributed beforehand that people read and then come to an agreement on in the meeting.
Just think how powerful it would be if you could spend every (short) meeting focusing on removing obstacles and moving forward - accelerating the work that your team does, not slowing it down.
But that's another post altogether…
Today I want to talk about Storytelling. Those of you who know me, know that I am a little obsessed with Storytelling and I got to thinking that Storytelling can offer us some chicken soup to help communicate better in meetings.
1. Get Engagement early on
If you start by telling a story about the reason people are sat in the room and that paints a picture of the future we want to get to people will be leaning in, not tuning out.
2. Make People Care
The first part of getting someone to agree to your idea is to figure out how to get them to emotionally connect to it. That’s how we make all of our decisions. We need to care about it, we need to connect to it and we want to FEEL that it’s something we want. Tell a story that paints a picture and makes people care about the outcome.
3. Build Trust
The second part of someone making a decision is having trust. Trust in you, the idea and the process so they can believe that this can actually happen. By telling stories of customers that have already done this, or other departments that succeeded in the same way, helps to build trust.
4. Explain Something Complex
If you need to present something complex, find a way to tell it as a story (ideally from a real life experience, with real people). Hands down this will make it more interesting and will help to create an emotional memory with the people in the room.
5. Make Presentations Exciting
Of course, we can’t talk about meetings without talking about presentations. If you have to do a presentation in a meeting then instead of having slides with text, bullets and a few images, maybe try having 6 photos on the screen and say, I’ll going to tell you six stories about this project/idea/opportunity/problem.
Then have images that help support the story and a few key stats or facts. I’d bet a lot of money, everyone is suddenly interested in what you have to say!
So the next meeting you go to, think about how you can bring a story into the proceedings. It might not be always possible but you’d be surprised how often you can and how thankful your colleagues will be.