Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Setting The Scene

Here are a few questions to kick us off this month……

How many conference calls or telepresence meetings do you attend in a week? And what about the number of face-to-face meetings? And how often do you find yourself wondering whether or not this call or meeting might be a monumental waste of your time? Here’s the reality for all of us. When we first get together with our colleagues virtually, what unfolds is exactly the same as that which happens when we meet face to face, namely social tension is at its highest and rapport is at its lowest. Even when meeting with people that we know well, every occasion is a new dynamic, a new day with a new energy. It is our base survival instinct that demands to understand what exactly is going on in this particular situation and to determine whether or not everything will be fine. Therefore, when it’s our meeting, we need to immediately and effectively exert influence, reduce tension and increase rapport.

I have been working with clients this month to do precisely that, particularly in a remote environment, and I call the technique ‘setting the scene’. This technique is a highly effective, persuasive and impactful way to engage our audience right from the start. Quite simply it involves conveying three key messages at the top of a call or meeting which I call the three ‘P’s - namely 'Purpose, Process, Payoff’.

Purpose: What’s the goal of this conversation? What do we want to achieve by having it? Think outcomes and do not confuse it with an agenda. An agenda is not a goal. What’s the point of working through the agenda? Is it to make a decision? Agree actions? Provide commitments? (In terms of time, money, people etc.)

Process: How is this meeting going to unfold? What are the different elements to it? For example “I have thee slides to share, then I’m really keen to get your thoughts on what the data I am about to share reveals”. We all need to understand how we are expected to contribute and be involved, so let’s make it clear to the audience right from the start.

Payoff: This is simply ‘WIFM’. What’s In It For Me? If we don’t articulate the value to the audience of being truly present in the meeting, then the allure of devices to start cranking out emails or drifting off in their minds will become too great.

If we don’t make this clear, our audience have to work it out for themselves and all too often they simply will not. Setting the scene is a powerful tool to convey presence and influence whether it is a face-to-face or remote environment. So, my final question is simply this: how soon would you like to start using it?

Until next time……

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