Magazine article Training & Development

Nine "M"s for Meetings That Motivate

Magazine article Training & Development

Nine "M"s for Meetings That Motivate

Article excerpt

First impressions count. That's not the first time you've heard that, is it? But we all know how true it is. Career consultants emphasize the importance of first impressions about the way people dress, writers know they have to grab their readers in the first paragraph, and presenters at meetings had better know that it's vital to attract people's interest quickly.

Here are some tips on how to start meetings that really motivate.

Make your meeting notices zappy. This is your first direct point of contact. It's your chance to forge expectations. Would you rather have someone who sees your meeting notice say, "What's this? Hey, this looks interesting!" or groan, "Not another damned meeting. I suppose I can't get out of it."

You're to first base already if your course participants want to be there and anticipate an interesting time. Here are some tips:

* Print your notice on colored paper to make it stand out.

* Spend time on a catchy title. Which would interest you more--a course called, "Enhanced Instructional Methods," or one called, "Teaching With Bells and Whistles"?

* Use a relevant, eye-catching cartoon or illustration.

* Keep the text to a minimum. Write a short lead, outline the content in point form, and then finish with a brief line or two telling what's in it for the participant.

Make 'em fillout a name tag. Why? First, it makes people feel involved from the start if they do it themselves. Second, you will build rapport much more speedily if you can call someone "John" instead of "er-um." Make sure the tags are large enough for you to read from the back row without eyestrain. (You weren't even thinking of not having name tags, were you? Were you?)

Meet and greet 'em on arrival. Do this and you've broken the ice before you even open your mouth about the course content. A smile, a handshake, and a friendly exchange do wonders to build empathy. You're not just a "talking head." Of course, we hope your teaching techniques make you more than that anyway.

Music 'em on arrival. What does music signal? "This is not a starchy meeting. We want you to relax and enjoy yourself." You'll have them humming along and feeling in a positive frame of mind as soon as they walk in. This is not work; it's fun! A word of warning: Everyone has different musical preferences. A good choice is popular light classical or movie themes. Even plants thrive on classical music.

Make 'em mix before you start. This loosens up the audience and promotes group interaction as people get to know more about each other. Give the first arrivals tasks to do. For instance, ask them to tell the others to print their names in large, clear letters. …

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