Oh, the meeting, that time where you hope you can get through your PowerPoint presentation within the allotted time, have everyone love your ideas, and walk out getting exactly what you want. Oh, magical thinking. Meetings are never that tidy and easy.
Yet meetings are an essential part of introducing new ideas, one reason we developed an entire segment of our video learning program, Be a Brave, Big-Hearted Rebel at Work: Get Unstuck, Find New Perspectives, to this topic, interviewing the talented Brice Challamel, author, entrepreneur, innovation expert, and a master of running meetings.
Some of his recommendations:
- The worst thing you can do in a meeting: present a fully formed, perfect idea. You’ll be tempted to want to shove the idea down people’s throats, cautions Brice. Instead introduce your idea as a work in progress and ask people for their suggestions, whereby they become your allies and collaborators. The idea will get better as will your relationships.
- The best way to get people’s support: Ask people what it would take for them to support the idea. And then listen respectfully to their suggestions. If people feel they are listened to, they will listen to you.
- What ideas people support: Their own. The best way to get people to support your idea is to make it their idea. Again, ask for what they think should be included vs. trying to get them to buy into your version of the idea.
- How long you should talk: Spend a small time presenting the idea, and leave the majority of the time for discussion about what people heard. This is how you improve an idea and gain support. “It’s important to remember that the purpose of the meeting is to gain allies for later,” says Brice. It is during the meeting conversations that we’re able to do that.
- What your PowerPoint needs to be: “Keep it as simple as possible so you have room for improvisation based on what’s happening in the room.”
- When to let go of an idea: “Sometimes it’s better to lose your idea and save the relationships,” says Brice. “You’ll have other ideas, but it may be difficult to repair damaged relationships.”