Wring the most out of meetings

September 1, 1997
Anita Sirianni

Pharmaceutical Representative

Follow these seven steps to make meetings more productive.

Company meetings can be wet blankets of lost productivity, sales and income unless you wring more out of them.

Meeting after meeting, it is easy to become passive and take a "back of the room" approach. Top sales people need to attend meetings with the attitude: "The more you learn, the more you'll earn."

To make the most of your attendance, consider the following steps you can take to boost the retention, return and rewards of your next meeting.

Be a prepared attendee

Set goals.

Determine what you want to accomplish by setting specific goals. Gray goals beget gray results. Clear goals beget clear results. Request a copy of the agenda in advance. This will help you focus on the topics to be covered and assist you in developing better goals.

Question the Matter

Once you have committed to attending the meeting or program, begin making a list of the questions or topics you have an interest in or need more information on. This will dramatically improve your personal "take away" value of the meeting.

Make a List

Develop a list of action items as they occur to you throughout the presentation. Divide the list by action item and implementation steps, and then assign start and completion times to each item or step. Be sure to transfer the steps and deadlines to your personal calendar or planner.

Reinforce and review

Create a notebook or make an audio tape of your notes from the meetings you attend. Keep these ideas next to the telephone in your office or in your car. Then, when you are on hold or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can quickly review your notes and action steps. Reviewing this summary of ideas will stimulate new ideas, reinforce what you've learned and dramatically increase your retention.

Words worth writing

It's a big temptation to write what a speaker is saying verbatim. Don't do it! Instead, write the main point or the key ideas that the speaker is trying to make.

Ask, "How does this apply to me?"

To reach a broad audience, meeting topics are often very general. You, however, will get the most from meetings when the information is practical and relates to you. As you learn new approaches and techniques, relate them to your situation and apply them to your current projects or problems. Discuss topics with colleagues and exchange creative ways to get the most out of them. You'll be amazed at how quickly and easily you'll apply new ideas when you know exactly how to put them into action.

Go outside the box

After the meeting, become more informed or skillful in the topics of discussion. Find other speakers, programs and resources who are experts in the field. Buy their books, articles and tapes or attend additional seminars to reinforce your learning and skill development. Studies show that adults learn best from a variety of methods.

Take charge of your time

Meetings are a necessary part of the business game. Prepare and plan for each meeting you attend as if you were in charge. Be in charge of your learning. The old axiom "time is money" rings true every time you are out of your territory at a meeting, so make the most of your time. PR

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