Stop inviting. Sell your meeting!

“My dear friends, we are together today in honor and to celebrate the memory of Loïc, who left us too young due to a crisis of meeting.”

Such could have been my funeral oration.

I’d learned as a quality manager that a meeting should be prepared. I used the 7Ps Framework designed by James Macanufo in the book Gamestorming.

Despite these preparations, the same result, again and again: meetings were not productive. While a study by Harvard Business School, in collaboration with the London School of Economics, reveals that executives spend one third of their time in meetings, I continually asked myself: Why aren’t meetings effective? How agile and Management 3.0 give us tools to improve their efficiency?

Last year, I was the product owner of our Management Coaching Product in a consulting firm. I wanted to organize a meeting to reflect with my coworkers on the commercial strategy. I planned it three times, and three times it was canceled. So boring! Finally, a date seemed to be available for each member. And surprise! We were only three of our seven-person team show up. Still another useless meeting. But how to energize people to participate?

During a conversation with an IT architect and a data scientist about these impediments, I noticed their interest to contribute. I had never thought of inviting them before. But why not? Lightning struck me. Agile teams are self-organized, included for meetings. What makes me legitimate to designate who is useful for the meeting? Nothing.

One action arose: Stop inviting.

But the most important thing is the People. If nobody shows, you’re not going to have any results. I would have to stop inviting people to my meeting and to start selling people to my meeting. How can I sell my meeting? After trying several tools, I realized that the Pixar Pitch was a great way to energize people to attend my meeting. I discovered it in the Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human. It is a storytelling technique (From Pixar Studios of course!) It contextualizes the product. And It’s easy! You just have to follow the template in the image below.

What is the pitch to sell my meeting?

  • “Once upon a time, there was a company in which managers were destabilized by the appearance of agile teams. Every day, they repeated the same requests related to control spending their energy. One day, Management 3.0 gave tools to experiment with new management postures.
  • Because of that, (fill the blank)
  • Until finally, (fill the blank).
  • We need you to complete our Pitch For Management 3.0 Coaching. If you’re interested, please join us to our meeting.”

It was the first time I used the Pixar Pitch, and I knew it wasn’t perfect. But I had nothing to lose. So, I posted it on Yammer, our enterprise social network.

The D-Day I was very anxious. And if no one came? Would that have been a problem? Maybe mine, but certainly not theirs! It is better not to hold a meeting than to hold a useless one.

Finally, what a surprise! Fourteen attendees, approximately half of the company. And it was a great and productive meeting.

This experience was the first step in my study on how to make effective meetings. I give you 8 others tips in our new Management 3.0 Module: Better Meetings. I’ll write other blogposts to explain each tip.

Don’t forget: the only expected result of a meeting should be to design memorable interactions.

So tell us below or in the #leadership Slack channel, how do you sell your meetings?Blog Footer

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