Want To Make Your Workplace Meetings More Enjoyable In 2005? Then Make Them More SLURPY, Says This California Meetings Guru
Can the dreaded workplace meeting actually be a pleasant experience? Yes, says Interactive Meeting Solutions President Chuck McPherson – if you make it scripted, lusty, unegotistical, results-directed – and include a healthy dose of self-praise!
Santa Rosa, CA (PRWEB) January 7, 2005
In his leisure time, meetings guru Chuck McPherson likes to do flips, slaloms and flying leaps while barefoot waterskiing on one of California's 20 private ski lakes.
But in his role as one of the country's leading interactive meeting and strategy consultants, McPherson wondered whether he could potentially make workplace meetings an equally exhilarating experience.
"The answer I came up with?" says McPherson, who skims along at speeds of over 40 m. p.h. on his Size 12 feet while pursing his unusual hobby. "Yes. Definitely yes. Well, maybe yes, maybe no, depends on the meeting."
In conclusion: It's definitely worth trying. But it won't happen by accident, says McPherson, who believes that half of the meetings that take place in the American workplace each day should probably be canceled as abusive and non-productive.
McPherson is president and CEO of Interactive Meeting Solutions of Santa Rosa, which works with companies such as Merrill Lynch, Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, Medtronic, Sonoma National Bank and La Tortilla Factory to make their workplace strategy and meetings more lively and effective.
"HIGH TECH, HIGH TALK"
Using networked laptops and software originally developed for the military to use in battlefield situations, McPherson turns bad meetings into exciting ones. "It's a high tech, high talk system that requires complete participation," says McPherson.
A laptop is placed in front of each meeting participant sitting at the conference table. At certain times during the meeting, the facilitator will say, "Lids up," meaning it's time to use the computer to type anonymous comments -- flashed up on a big screen in the front of the room for all to see -- about what has transpired so far during the meeting. When the facilitator says, "Lids down," lively discussion takes place. A log of the meeting is provided to participants so that all ideas discussed during the meeting become the firm's intellectual property. For geographically scattered participants, this process can take a similar form via the Internet, reducing costs of travel and time for participants so when they do come together the meeting is meaningful.
"Everyone contributes, nobody can just be an observer under this system," says McPherson. "Whereas in a typical non-interactive meeting, at least two thirds of meeting participants are likely to remain silent, just waiting for time to pass."
WANT TO TURN A DULL MEETING INTO A PLEASURABLE ONE? MAKE IT MORE SLURPY!
For meeting facilitators – both interactive and regular – who want to make their meetings more fun, McPherson recommends they make their meetings more "SLURPY."
"It may sound stupid, but it's what we came up with," says McPherson. "It's an acronym. And in real life, something that is slurpy is something that goes down fast and is delicious -- which would be the definition of a fun and pleasurable meeting."
According to McPherson, a pleasurable and exhilarating meeting should have these attributes:
-SCRIPTED: "If you want to have a meeting be exhilarating, you can't go in there and just wing it," says McPherson. "And having a brief agenda simply does not cut it anymore. You need to game out your meeting in advance, break down what questions need to be asked and answered, and outline in advance what the possible answers might be. In many cases, you should spend as much time scripting the meeting as you spend in the actual meeting."
-LUSTY: "Think of the Visigoths sacking Rome in 410 A. D.," says McPherson. "Management consultants today would say those troops had ‘tremendous buy-in' to the task at hand. They knew what the rewards would be if they succeeded, they knew the rewards were immediate and substantial, and this type of ‘informed buy in' created a high-energy atmosphere for the challenge they faced," says McPherson. "In a modern-day meetings context, a lusty meeting is one in a high-energy meeting in which the goals are communicated in advance of the meeting, everyone knows exactly what's at stake and what the rewards are for having a successful meeting, and the tools are given meeting participants in advance so they can be successful attendees. (Which is to say, it's often best to provide questions to meeting attendees in advance, so that the meeting leader does not have to depend on instant inspirations from above to motivate the tongues and brains of meeting participants.)"
-UN-EGOTISTICAL: "Too often, the meeting leader becomes a mini-Mussolini, monopolizing the conversation in a very self-focused way to meet his or her personal goals or psychological needs," says McPherson. "Meetings are vastly more pleasurable when everyone is working as a team." At one company, this problem was so dramatic that meeting participants bought a knife to pass between themselves as a mock "prize" after each meeting with a particularly egotistical senior VP. "It was awarded to the person who had been knifed in the back most viciously in that week's meeting," says McPherson.. "Obviously, a meeting at this company was far from a pleasurable event."
-RESULTS-DIRECTED: "In order for a workplace meeting to be pleasurable, it must achieve a result. Otherwise, people will feel you have wasted their time and not buy into your future meetings," says McPherson. "Any meeting that achieves a concrete result will afford at least some measure of pleasure to its participants."
-PRAISE YOURSELVES: "It's always pleasurable to have someone say something nice about you," says McPherson. "If a meeting leader wants to have participants go away from a meeting feeling warm and fuzzy, it's a good idea to take time to individually praise as many participants as possible for specific, recent contributions to the company." The importance of praise is commonly overlooked in meeting planning circles, says McPherson, with many meetings instead focusing entirely on perceived failings..
"No one expects a workplace meeting to be a laugh riot," concludes McPherson. "After all, it's work. But it can be fun, it can be challenging – and it can definitely be a pleasurable experience."
MEETING PROBLEMS ARE EPIDEMIC IN U. S., SAYS IMS SURVEY
According to a recent survey of 1216 American workers conducted by Opinion Research Corp. that was commissioned by Interactive Meeting Solutions:
20% of workers say they tend to be "wallflowers" at work-related meetings
55% of workers say that one or more "meeting bullies" tend to dominate the meetings that they attend;
36% of workers say that at many of the meetings they attend, no important decisions are mad;
34% of workers say that many of the meetings they attend for work are "a complete waste of time."
29% of Americans say they usually attend three or more work related meetings each week
36% of workers say that most of the meetings they attend are not "well-run"
38% of workers say that most of the meetings they attend are not "effective in achieving what they set out to accomplish"
59% of workers say that their work-related meetings could benefit from more honesty
30% of workers say that if people said what they really thought at their work-related meetings they would probably get fired
31% say that most of the meetings they attend for work are "pretty boring"
37% of workers say that they have attended at least one work-related meeting where a participant fell asleep. Most likely to fall asleep – meeting-goers in the Midwest, where 42% of meeting goers have seen someone doze off. Least likely to have sleeping meeting participants are companies in the West, where only 34% of workers have attended a meeting where a coworker sawed some wood.
East Coast workers are almost one-third (30%) more likely to be required to attend frequent meetings as part of their jobs, compared to their counterparts on the West Coast. The survey found that 33% of East Coast workers attend three or more work related meetings each week, compared with just 25% of West Coast workers who do so.
But West Coasters say their meetings are slightly more effective: 68% of West Coast workers believe that most of the meetings they attend are "pretty effective in achieving what they set out to do," compared with just 63% of East Coast workers who agree with that statement.
ABOUT INTERACTIVE MEETING SOLUTIONS:
Interactive Meeting Solutions LLC was founded in January 2003 by industry veterans from companies such as Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies and St. Joseph's Health Care. IMS meeting methodologies enable companies to harvest the intellectual property so often lost within companies because of lack of participation and direction during meetings, and to turn the intellectual property into action and create structured breakthrough results in half the time. Using proprietary software originally used by the U. S. military to aid quick decision-making under battlefield conditions, and sophisticated methodologies developed by IMS consultants, the Santa Rosa-based company pairs state of the art technology with professional hands-on meeting design and facilitation expertise. Free advice on that topic can be found at the company's "how-to" web site, www. imstrackmeet. com