By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to get your meetings off to more productive start.
Most meetings end before they begin. In sheer confusion, frustration and exasperation. “A waste of my time,” they grouse. And no wonder. The meeting agenda skipped the foreplay.
No I’m not trying to appeal to your prurient interests. Only to your persuasive interests as a leader to get the extended attention and retention of others. And sometimes that means blowing your own horn!
Trumpet the treasure to come, much like “Hail to the Chief” commands the audience attention at the entrance of the President of the United States.
Let’s have a little fanfare for the common man at your next meeting. Invest a little passion and energy into enthusiastically introducing your first meeting presenter.
Too many meetings open with a boring statement of the purpose of the meeting or the proverbial toss of the baton “okay now let me turn the meeting over to….”
No, no, no. Boring. And exasperating to both presenter and audience especially when both are responding to mandates and neither have the patience to cope with the others’ smirks, ridicule and sometimes outright antipathy to the subject matter at hand.
Imagine the two polarized sides in this meeting: The audience consisted of 18-19 college freshmen, tough guys used to being lauded in the press and courted for college scholarships. And the presenter? A short old guy. Not a professor.
There was no direct relationship between the presenter and the audience until the meeting leader conducted the foreplay of a passionate introduction:
“Gentlemen,” beamed the leader of a major college football team, “you are now going to hear about the greatest college fight song from the greatest band director in the history of college football.”
You can forgive Bo Schemblecher for a bit of the hyperbole in his introduction but at least he got his audience’s attention and retention. Here’s how Bo, the head football coach at the University of Michigan, described this meeting in his book Bo’s Lasting Lessons –The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership:
“Now I ‘m sure the freshmen were thinking: What the hell is this? But when (UM Band Director Dr. William D. ) Revelli marched up to the front of that room, he commanded those football players exactly the way he commanded his band.
“In about five seconds, he had those big lugs in his back pocket!
“He rose to the podium, tapped his baton, looked right into their eyes and said: “John Philip Sousa called this the GREATEST FIGHT SONG ever written.”
Now for a cheer they are here, triumphant!
Here they come with banners flying,
In stalwart step they’re nighing,
With shouts of vict’ry crying,
We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now, Hail!
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best!
The coach had invited the band director –in full uniform– to teach the freshman football players how to sing the Michigan Fight Song. “God he was beautiful,” Bo says of the UM band director. “He didn’t just teach them “The Victors.” He taught them Michigan tradition.”
The lesson is clear. Build up your meeting presenters or risk the audience tearing down your meeting.
Invest time and energy into the introduction of meeting presenters to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
You might also like this previous post on Leadership Mints on Meetings.
Making your Meeting POP
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