Communication

Hold More Effective Meetings

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Meetings are a part of business, whether it’s meetings with your team members, with your business associates, or with community groups. Here are some ways that you can make your next meeting a success as well as a pleasant experience for all those who attend.

Provide sufficient advance notice

Plan your meeting well ahead of time and make your invitations informative. Include details such as the meeting venue, the starting and finishing times, the agenda and what should be brought by those attending. If possible, give those you want to attend a minimum of a week’s notice so they can either schedule it in or tell you well ahead of time if they’re unable to attend.

Start and finish on time

The meeting should always begin at the time stated on the invitation. Even if you know others will be arriving shortly thereafter, start the meeting on time and don’t let latecomers interrupt it.  It’s also important that your meetings finish as scheduled to show that you respect the value of other people’s time.

Work to an agenda

To be effective a meeting should be run to an agenda, with each issue managed so as to stay within a stipulated period of time and to stick to the point. If people know exactly what’s expected of them in the meeting they’ll be more likely to focus on the topic under discussion and avoid becoming distracted.

Pay attention and use eye contact

If you’re the only person speaking it’s not a meeting – it’s a lecture. Encourage others to participate and when they do, use eye contact to show that you’re listening to them and thinking about what they’re saying. When they’ve finished you might summarize what they’ve said or ask a clarifying question. This is not only courteous, it will also enable you to continue managing the meeting even if others are speaking.

Make your guests comfortable

If you anticipate the needs of your guests during the meeting they’ll be impressed by your professionalism. Have a pitcher of water and glasses available for all participants and put some bowls of mints on the table too. If it’s an especially long meeting allow for a five minute comfort break at least each hour - but be sure to restart the meeting promptly at the end of the break period. If your meeting overlaps a mealtime provide food that can be eaten comfortably by people standing up and allow a twenty minute break to eat it.

Have all materials on hand

Each participant should have a pad of paper and a pen or pencil at their seat. A copy of the agenda is also essential.  Rather than having things passed around the table during the meeting, have a copy of every item at each place. If you’re concerned about attendees ‘jumping the gun’ and seeing something ahead of time, put it in a sealed envelope and let them know at the start of the meeting that it’s to be opened later on when you ask them to.

Don’t let big talkers dominate the meeting

In most groups there are ‘talkers’ and ‘listeners’. Giving too much time and attention to the talkers can mean missing out on valuable contributions from those less inclined to speak up. You might go around the room and ask individuals what they think about what’s been said rather than asking for them to put up their hands, or simply assign everyone a one or two minute opportunity to give their view about what’s been discussed.

Record ideas on a flip chart or whiteboard

As people in the audience contribute, make a note of their comments on a flip chart or whiteboard. This will remind everyone of what’s been said during the meeting and give you the chance to invite comments from anyone who hasn’t yet spoken up. It also makes it much easier for you to give a recap of what’s been covered at the windup of the meeting.  If appropriate, summarize the meeting’s highlights and send a copy to everyone who attended.

How to Become A Better Communicator

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Most of us perform better in one part of the communications process, as either a Speaker or a Listener, but don’t go to the effort to make the most of our communicating abilities by improving the weaker skill. But our communication is likely to be so much better and more effective if we did. It’s not too difficult.

Speakers need to be aware of their audience

Speakers are good at sending out a message. They’re focused on what they’re saying and how they say it. What they too often miss is how it affects their audience – the listeners. Speakers who don’t think about their audience when they speak are likely to be talking mostly to themselves.

Listeners should think about what they hear

Good listening involves thinking about what the speaker is saying and integrating new information with the existing body of knowledge so it becomes relevant on a personal level. Good Listeners actively work to understand what the speaker is saying and focus their thoughts on the content of the message directed to them. Listeners who don’t listen actively will miss out on much of the speaker’s message.

Listening isn’t the same as just hearing what other people say - that’s what the ears do. It’s the brain that does the actual listening, and the more mental power you apply to what you hear, the more you’re going to understand.

You’re only going to apply this extra effort if you’re interested in what you’re hearing. That means thinking about what’s being said, word-for-word. Repeat the other person’s words in your mind and analyze what’s been said.  Don’t try to think about what you’re going to say in response; that will take you away from active listening and make you partially disconnect from the conversation.

A message is more than just the words

The content of the message isn’t just what the speaker says; it’s also the thoughts and feelings the speaker is trying to communicate. It’s the sum of what the speaker’s words really mean, which can also be conveyed by their facial expressions, body language, and even their tone of voice. The ideal communicator is aware of all the subtleties involved in communication and understands that it’s not just about the words used in a conversation.

Give feedback and learn how to receive it

All human communication is a two-way process.  Getting feedback from your audience is important so that you know if your message is being understood and also whether it’s being accepted or generating a hostile response. It can help to imagine yourself as your audience and ask: “How is this speaker going? Do I understand everything or do I need clarification?”  Good speakers always get audience feedback and can adjust their presentation accordingly.

Improving your technique

The simplest way to improve your speaking technique is to invest in a simple webcam and record yourself giving a 60-second talk on your favourite subject. When you play it back you’ll notice so much about the way you speak and quickly get an idea about how to improve it.

By thinking about how we speak, how we use our voice, and how we sound, we can greatly improve our skills of communicating to an audience, whether it’s to one person or to a roomful.  Establish a communications link with your audience and maintain it while you speak. Eye contact is essential, but you should also watch for changes in facial expression and posture to see how your message is being received, and pause from time to time to give the other person a chance to respond.

Communications are the way we relate to other people. They’re the basis of how we make friends, influence others – and do business. Start working today to become a better communicator and it will have a positive impact on every aspect of your life.

The Missing Link to Ongoing Sustainable Sales Growth

Statistically, across industries, employers spend approximately 90% of their efforts training their sales team on product knowledge. The remaining 10% is spent training their sales force how to develop connection, relationship and trust with customers. 

Obviously, both are very important but in and of themselves, or even collectively, these disciplines are not enough to achieve the ultimate goal of any sales organization - ongoing, sustainable sales growth.

So what's the missing link? What does it take to get sales people off of the sales rollercoaster, and on to a consistent growth pattern that continues?

While more emphasis on sales training (i.e., connection, relationship and trust) would definitely improve results short term, the only true long-term solution is in developing and increasing the sales professionals ability to influence customers and outcomes.

To improve your own ability, or the ability of your sales team to influence customers and customer outcomes, register below for our complimentary video training series on Sales Influence.

Complete the form below to request the complimentary training. 

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