Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Agenda: the anchor that keeps your meeting from drifting aimlessly

A good agenda will help keep the meeting from drifting aimlessly. When a thorough agenda is sent out ahead of time participants will be more likely to come prepared, you'll receive more buy-in, and a greater sense of inclusiveness will develop. Be sure your agenda includes the basics:

  • Meeting date, time and place
  • Purpose of meetingwrite at the top of the agenda
  • Meeting protocol—may be on agenda and/or posted
  • Leader or facilitator, Participants—name, department. Be sure stakeholders are in the meeting if their area or department is involved.
  • Write each agenda item as a goal or action. Rather than: Discuss budget, write it as a specific task that needs doing: Define budget categories and develop tentative amounts in each category.
  • Identify the nature of each item: 1) Discussion 2) Brainstorm for ideas 3) Decision 4) Information
  • Provide background information with the item
  • Assign a participant responsible for each item
  • Indicate time allocated for each item

And write the purpose of the meeting on a board or chart paper.  Then, when someone strays from the purpose, you can point at it!  Have post-its on the table and a Parking Lot posted.  If someone brings up an off-the-subject item, ask them to post it on the Parking Lot.  Be sure to follow up with them after the meeting.

Everyone appreciates a meeting that is led effectively and stays on time.  A good agenda will help you accomplish this!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get buy-in and improve meetings─have the group evaluate the meeting

A recent survey by cloud-based presentation platform Prezi, in collaboration with the Harris Group, found that 46% of American workers admitted to texting, checking email or social media, browsing the web, or even falling asleep during a meeting.  Besides being rude and showing a lack of social awareness, what could be the cause? 

One thought? Lack of buy-in on the part of the group.  Besides sending out a thorough agenda ahead of time, coming prepared and keeping the group focused, consider having the group fill out a brief evaluation just before leaving the meeting.  If you act on their suggestions, it will give them buy-in.  And, it will give you ideas for improving the next meeting.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Are you ready for the next meeting?

At a recent Professional Development Program I led for the Washington State Association of Counties, a County Commissioner had a brilliant idea! When leading presentation skills, I give the group a planning sheet to fill out before each presentation.  Her idea?  Think about these questions enroute from one meeting to the next.  That way you arrive at the next meeting prepared to focus, contribute and read the other participants.  I have another form to fill out for those leading a meetingwith ideas for preparing for the meeting ahead of time.  Yet I thought her idea of using this formhaving these questions in mind as she moved to the next meetingwas a terrific idea.  Here are the questions:

1. What is the situation?

2. What do I need to accomplish?

3. Who is the audience? Who will be involved?

4. What will influence or persuade themtheir criteria?

5. What do I need to focus on regarding my nonverbals?

6. What reaction do I expect the audience to have? What are some nonverbal behaviors they may demonstrate that will give me clues as to their reaction?

May you be prepared for the next meeting and the meeting after that and the meeting after that...  All day long!

Monday, May 5, 2014

New ownership means great service at coffee shop!

The coffee shop next door to my condo is now under new management─Mark's the owner and Maddie's the head barista. I stopped in to welcome them and let them know that it was an uphill battle. The last ownership and staff did pretty much nothing right.  One night soon thereafter I walked by and noticed the only light was coming from the open door...to the kitchen. Stopped in the next day and suggested they leave one of the table lamps on near one of their many, welcoming seating areas. Checked it out that night and there it was! OH, and they remembered my name when I stopped in to say, "Hooray!" the next day. Clearly they know how to listen and understand customer service! Besides that, they make wonderful coffee and serve delicious food. And, they now have a selection of local brews that hit the spot when you need a beer. Next time you're in Seattle and near the Olympic Sculpture Park, stop in and pick up lunch or coffee. Then you can walk the half-block to the Park and enjoy great views and great food. They're on First Avenue between Broad and Eagle. (Yes, a very short street that gives you a direct view toward the Eagle by Calder in the Park...). Great food, great coffee, great brews and great service - with a smile! 

And they leave the light on...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dazzle them with flowers or a handwritten thank you note!

My wonderful speaker agent - Cheryl Ferguson of 5x5live - called me the other day to see if she could stop by to deliver something. She arrived with flowers and a handwritten card. Reminded me how often our thank yous are sent via email. And what a difference such a thoughtful effort makes!  So, a reminder for us all. Next time someone does something nice for you, mail (yes, snail mail) them a handwritten thank you note. Better yet?  Deliver flowers!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Creating Exceptional Customer Relations

Studies show that 68% of customers who quit doing business with a company do so because they are turned away by an attitude of indifference on the part of a company employee.  That is, the customer's perception of that employee's attitude. When we're face-to-face with our customers, we need to be aware of our facial expressions and body language for they send messages we're sometimes not even aware of!
And, it's important to make sure your customers feel valued and heard.  Everyone wins when you take the time to pay attention to your relationships with customers—both internal and external. Word-of-mouth is one of the most important factors influencing a customer's decision to buy from or work with your company.

Go beyond simply satisfying customers to having them sing your praises! And keep your customers coming back—again and again. When I lead this workshop we:
Ÿ Determine the 7 sins of customer service and how to avoid them
Ÿ Differentiate among the four essential factors in communication
and employ them to prepare for and manage interactions with customers           
Ÿ Explore how the way you look and the sound of your voice
impact  coworkers and customers—both positively and negatively!           
Ÿ Identify the Red Flag words that tick customers off and cause
them to get defensive or aggressive           
Ÿ Demonstrate you're listening and make sure your customers feel heard
Ÿ Focus on ways to stay in touch and keep customers coming back

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stay away from words that push your customers' buttons!

There are words that are guaranteed to tick off customers!  To push their buttons. They're like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

Here's a list for you to ponderand some suggestions for replacements:

Red flag phrases                                                          Calming phrases

You should have...                                             I can understand why you

You’ll have to...                                                  May I ask you to...

Why didn’t you?                                                 I can see why...
I have to                                                             I will, Let me, I’d be happy to
I’ll try                                                                   I’ll take care of this
                                                                           Let me see what I can do

I can’t                                                                  Let me find out for you

That’s not my responsibility                                I’ll find out who...

It’s not our policy                                                Here’s what we can do
                                                                           Here’s what you can do

But                                                                      And
No Problem                                                        You're welcome!
                                                                            I’m glad I could help…
                              I’m happy to…
                                                                            My pleasure…