Please Stop Boring People in Meetings
That’s how I started a five minute pitch last week at a business networking event.
See, 20 business owners had been sitting around a large conference style table eating a lunch of clam chowder, over-sized chicken sandwiches and french fries, and listening to person after person talk for five minutes about their business. Not to mention the room had no windows and became warmer with every person who spoke.
Here’s the kicker. In a room of 20 people, I sat in the chair lucky enough to speak last.
Now, if you’ve ever been to a meeting or networking event you probably know where I’m going. After a while, all you hear are muffled noises or the sound of chairs creaking as people shift trying to keep themselves awake or steal a peak at their email or Facebook feed hoping no one around the table notices.
(Hint: We notice.)
But I digress.
Going last meant I had choices:
- I could play it safe and do what every one else did or,
- Figure out a way to wake them up to ensure they heard me when I spoke.
Playing it safe would have been easy… and boring
With a business named Engage The Room, I needed to walk the talk.
- Make them stand up and sit down?
- Do nothing, play it safe and avoid looking foolish?
- Jump up from my chair, throw my hands in the air and scream “Woo!”?
That last thought made my heart race and my hands shake a little bit. The warm room suddenly gave me a chill. And that’s how I knew choice number #3 was the right choice. Because I didn’t come to this event to waste a five minute opportunity to promote my business.
Sometimes the right move is the one that scares us
Finally, my turn came and sure enough I stood up, threw my arms in the air and shouted “Woo!”
The whole room woke up, looked at me, and laughed. They sat taller and for the next five minutes all eyes were on me.
A few folks even asked for my card to learn more about what I do.
So, why am I telling you this? It’s not to brag. Doing what I did took courage. Even though this is my work today, I’m constantly pushing myself to be bolder, freer, and test the boundaries of communication and engagement in business.
And I want you to do the same. Because business meetings don’t have to bore people. Communication doesn’t have to be a burden or something to fear. People want to be entertained. They want to learn. They want to feel part of your world. You can take baby steps.
Please stop boring people in meetings
Look, I realize that as a business owner I’m lucky enough to say, “Hey if you don’t like my ‘Woo!’ – you’re not the right client for me.” Not everyone has that luck. You may have employees to worry about or clients or boards of directors. I also realize skill and confidence levels vary. It’s taken 14 years to build up to “Woo!”
Here’s what I know to be true: people hate boring. So, please stop boring people in meetings. Yes, you need to know yourself and your audience, everyone can tap into a little “Woo!” to wake up an audience. Here’s a short list of possibilities to get you going:
- Can you stand instead of sit when you run a meeting?
- Start with a story instead of “Hi, my name is…”
- To kick off a staff meeting in a positive way, ask employees to share one thing that’s going well.
- At a networking event, instead of asking, “What do you do?” ask “Why do you love your work?”
- If you’re the quiet observer, can you insert yourself into a conversation?
When you speak you want people to pay attention to you (yes, you do). So find your “Woo!” and then share it.
I dare you.
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About the blog
Insights for leaders who are tired of formal protocols stifling their personality and ideas.
Here we get at the heart of what it means to "be yourself" in any business setting.