Setting the Tone

Do your meetings feel like a drag?

What we often forget is that work or team meetings, just like a presentation, also have “an introduction.” That’s the moment when you say “OK let’s get started.” What tone are you setting for your meetings? Do you kick off with “Thank you all for coming – this is a really challenging project and I think we can all see the progress we’re making” or are you more in the “Where the heck is John – can we start one meeting on time for once?!” camp? (With apologies to all the punctual Johns).

When we prepare our presentations, we spend time finding an exciting way to grab audience attention and motivate people to listen to our material. Should we not be putting the same thought into what kind of mood or tone we want to set at our meetings? Starting with "Alright, let's get this over with then!" does not inspire creativity or participation.

A simple wrong turn at the opening can create resistance and stifle input for the rest of the meeting – and even the rest of the working relationship. The worst case I ever saw was an introductory meeting that began with the person in charge saying “This isn’t what I wanted to do with my life and I don’t even know why I was put with this group.” Well, you don’t need to be psychic to guess how that one worked out!

Here are some tips for the right tone for your meetings:

  1. Greet with a smile. Don’t let any misgivings communicate themselves through your facial expressions. Deal with the issues when they come up rather than advertising your concern from the start.
  2. Thank everyone for coming. Even if it’s their job, they value their work time and will appreciate the acknowledgement of their input.
  3. Motivating opening comments remind everyone of the reason you are all together. Tap into the big picture or the vision. This will focus thinking on the right subject, with the right attitude. Wherever possible, be positive.

Remember that it is not against the law to enjoy work. Make your meetings places where people feel welcome and where their participation is valued. In that atmosphere you are more likely to get creative solutions and proactive team behaviours.

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