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Meetings are - more often than not - unproductive, owing to poorly organized (or absent) agendas, wayward oversight, and directionless conversation. Even thinking about a meeting sends some into a tailspin.
First of all, treat your meeting like a presentation. The first part should be the delivery of the message and the second should include a quick, time-limited Q-and-A and the definition of action items.
Then, as speaker coach Diane DiResta recommends, you have to follow a handful of simple rules to keep your composure and ensure a powerful, positive effect to every meeting presentation.
She calls these rules the “GLAD Rule”.
[G]ive them what they need to know, not everything you know.
We’re often tempted to demonstrate our knowledge or expertise by heaping on a wealth of information. But that just dilutes the main argument.
Instead, start by asking: What does my audience need/want to know? Stick to that.
[L]ead with “you.”
Believe it or not, your presentation is not about you - it’s about your captive audience. So give them what they want. Talk about their needs and pain points. Be clear about solutions that affect them. And use “you” language to underscore this effort.
[A]ct, and push for [A]ction.
Be performative - but only as far as it supports your main point.
While numbers vary, experts have noted that 60-80% of communication comes from body language, so leverage that with gestures that emphasize your key point. Don't flail, though - that’s merely distracting.
Also, be sure you close your presentation with a call to action. What can your audience do now that they have this new information?
[D]eliver details in the middle, the thesis at the beginning and end.
If you start with the nitty-gritty, you’ll lose your audience. Grab your audience with a hook (like a story or a compelling statistic), then share your main thesis. What is your point and why does it matter? After this, you can add in supporting details.
Then, close with a memorable punch - give your audience the thesis one more time, packaged slightly differently so it doesn't sound like your parroting yourself.
This approach can be used in general conversation, too - not just in formal presentations.
The crux of it is keeping it simple, compelling, and audience-focused.
Why would they want to listen? What will they get out of it? If you make the the case clear and provide an attractive benefit to action, you'll got them hooked.
If you're worried about presenting in front of people, DiResta has a few quick pointers that are easy to remember:
Meetings are done - or should be done - to discuss the problems and the solutions to those problems; not to create more problems.
“You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”
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