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Fighting the deadly sins of meeting etiquette


Pharmaceutical Representative

Roundtable discussions can be some of the most valuable opportunities for learning and team building.

In medieval times, they were called the seven deadly sins. Many of these same old sins are revisited all too often in today's pharmaceutical sales meetings. The "sinners" come to the meetings as presenters and as participants. Roundtable discussions with knights in business-casual armor can be some of the most valuable opportunities for learning and team building. We should all help make the most of this important time. Let's take a look at each sin and how it threatens some of our most productive activities.


Presenters as well as participants can be guilty of this sin. Studies have shown that monologues lasting more than seven minutes result in a loss of 50% of an audience's attention (marketing slide shows at 4:30 in the afternoon come to mind). As presenters, we may understand how great our material is, but we need to be aware of our captive audience members and how they may be feeling about it. We should make our presentations as relevant and interactive as possible.


It's great to be a contributor and enhance meetings with enthusiasm and personal experiences - we all want to take part and put in our two cents' worth. But that grumbling we hear after adding a dollar and two cents' worth of input could be our peers who feel that less is sometimes more. We all need to be aware of how often we have the floor and make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute. There are lots of talented people in our industry, and sometimes we can learn more by listening than by talking.


We should be considerate of others, whether we are speakers or listeners. As salespeople, we are passionate by nature and sometimes need to mellow out and be a little less impulsive with our judgments and our anger. Successful meetings require an effort by everyone to be as polite and positive as possible. As audience members, let's be active listeners by using eye contact and body language that encourage our speakers. As presenters, we should be sensitive to our audience and frequently allow time for stretching and bio breaks. Memorable meetings happen when the speakers and the listeners are actively participating and contributing.


Many of our meeting venues lend themselves to relaxation and enjoyment once the daytime activities are finished. We have all seen representatives relax themselves out of a job. As we say in Louisiana, "pass a good time," but we might want to pass on that next drink too. These social functions can be a positive opportunity for team building if we stay upbeat and determined to see the glass half full. Let's not feed the negative food chain while we are feeding ourselves.


Meetings require an effort by everyone in order to be successful. As presenters or as listeners, we must come prepared. How many times have we heard a speaker say, "I really have nothing prepared" and then had to listen to a rambling presentation that went on well past the allotted time? This creates problems for the meeting planners and irritation for the representatives who now know the meeting is bound to be a late one.

As representatives, we can do our part by being on time and by being attentive (no slumping and head nodding, please). Courtesy and enthusiasm encourage a learning atmosphere. The more we bring to the meeting in attitude and preparation, the more we will take away.



Much like in medieval times, we pharmaceutical knights riding our great steed Intrepid can storm the medical castles - as long as we avoid the deadly sins of meeting etiquette at our roundtable meetings. PR

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