Try to imagine this. In the year of 2009 I was a 21-year-old Estonian exchange student in Georgia (US) and it is my first day at school. I had previously signed up for an Introduction to Communication Class thinking that this would be a good start for the year to ease into the world of communication. Sounds reasonable, right?
I was driving to school in my old red Chrysler Sebring that my host parents got me, windows down, music blasting and I was feeling like I was on the top of the world. I find the right classroom and sit down thinking, “Ok, Ott. This is going to be an awesome year and a great chance to practice my English and meet some new friends”. My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher who walked in head held high and said, “Welcome to the Public Speaking Class”. Wait….WHAT??!!!
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.” – Jerry Seinfeld
My heart sank and my first reaction was that I’m in the wrong class, but then the teacher said that Public Speaking Class is the first part of Introduction to Communication. I panicked and thought to myself, “I am terrified of public speaking, even worse – in an another language. I’m going to fail, so how am I going to get out of this?”
What happened next and how is this story related to being productive in meetings?
I’ll tell you. Fast forward 3 months. I got an A for the Public Speaking Class and the teacher asked me to present my final speech in a Public Speaking Competition. I’m not boasting, I am trying to share my story, so you can experience similar success. When I was thinking how am I going to get out of this, the teacher started introducing herself. I was not listening, because I was frozen with fear, but besides the teacher not liking blue M&M’s and that she was a big Steelers fan, I heard the most important advice I could have ever heard.
“Everybody can be successful in public speaking if they PREPARE for it.”
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown ― H.P. Lovecraft
Our teacher was very methodical and strict about teaching public speaking. She took the preparation process into little pieces and gave us the right tools, which took away the crippling fear of public speaking. Furthermore, with that kind of specific preparation you actually managed to deliver a good speech, because there was no room for the unknown. I am still thankful for those lessons and tools she gave me. Now, there is something I would like to help you with – holding a productive meeting.
Public speaking and holding a productive meeting may not have much in common, but in order to succeed, you still need to prepare for both of them.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin
As you probably already know, you should prepare for a meeting so that it won’t waste everybody’s time. More importantly, when you prepare, you will get the results you wanted out of that particular meeting.
Did you know that 50% of people find meetings to be unproductive and over 37 billion dollars are wasted on inefficient meetings? (via TED)
Weekdone, the Company that I work for, has declared war on inefficient meetings and is trying to help people stop wasting time and money by NOT PREPARING for meetings. I promise that these tools are not so methodical and time consuming, like my preparation for a good speech. But, they definitely are a simple and interactive way to prepare and hold productive meetings. So here it is – a perfect toolbox for productive meetings.
First of all, make sure that you should have a meeting.
Secondly, before a meeting, go through a 3-step meeting check-list to make sure you are prepared for it. If you have doubts, just imagine yourself giving a speech in another language unprepared.
Thirdly, set a time limit to your meeting and use Team Meeting Tracker to do it, so everybody can see how much time is left. That helps you save time and make sure nobody is wasting it.
To conclude, if you are taking productivity seriously and want to save time and increase productivity with your team, check out Weekdone, a weekly employee progress report.
Prepare, and be productive in everything you do!