Haven't we all sat in a conference room and watched someone make what we feel are obvious communication mistakes? Where is the college course on conducting effective small group meetings, or better yet, where is the list of mistakes to avoid? Here are a few to help you and your team:
- Executive Tunnel Vision. As the CEO of Benefitfocus, I often attend meetings where someone is overly focused on me during their presentation. The presenter will speak to me and essentially ignore the other people in the room. It makes me uncomfortable and is disrespectful to the other individuals who have given their time. Teach yourself to look around the room, to address everyone and to listen.
- Gender Focus. Similar to #1 above, I have seen people address only one gender in the room. You would think by now this would not need to be taught, but someone has to say it. You may not realize you are doing this, or you may only be doing it slightly, but people pick up on it. Treat everyone in the room equally.
- Cramming Content. There have been times when I have tried to cram in all my points before a meeting ends. I look at the clock and realize the time is almost up and then speed up to push the balance of my content through to the end. This is a mistake. When a meeting has run its course and you have more to cover, just take a deep breath and pick one final point to make. It may actually be reinforcing a point you have already made. Leave the meeting on your key message. If you have a deepening relationship with the folks, you will have the opportunity for additional meetings. Business is a marathon, not a sprint.
You can be great in small group settings. You can communicate your points, receive feedback and have a ton of success. As you participate in these meetings, make notes of things you notice that draw you in and pull you along versus those that turn you off and push you away. Use those notes to adapt your own style and habits. Your career will advance faster, your company will benefit and your customers will greatly appreciate you!