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Blog : Until the fat lady sings


Until the fat lady sings

Jodi Goldman discusses effective meetings...

Last weekend my friends and I hit Soho’s fantastic “Karaoke Box”.

Unlike regular karaoke, which offers the prospect of ritual humiliation in front of hundreds of strangers, “Karaoke Box” allows you to wail away in a private booth. This makes for a far less intimidating experience, not least because everybody tends to belt out every single song that comes on!

But as the night progressed I realised that the observation of some unwritten rules might have led to an even better evening. When a meeting I was in today started to resemble my karaoke night (minus the rum and coke), my mind returned to these rules…And I realised that they applied to both situations!

Rule one: pick some songs before you arrive…

Time flies by in a karaoke booth and you really don’t want to waste it trying to remember your favourite songs or even squabbling about what songs to put on. A little bit of thought about the songs you might ALL like to sing beforehand also discourages bad decisions – because nothing will kill a karaoke night quicker than that Leonard Cohen B-Side only you know and love. Meetings are no different. While there has to be room for spontaneity, if everyone has come to the meeting to discuss different things, not much is going to be resolved. A clear agenda should be agreed and circulated beforehand so that everyone understands the purpose of the meeting and what they can contribute.

Rule two: don’t hog the microphone…

We’ve all been there. Your rendition of “Livin’ On a Prayer” brings the house down, so you decide to break out “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and then follow it up with “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The only problem with this private rock concert is you're annoying your friends - some of whom would also like a go on the mic…

We all like the sound of our own voices, but the best meetings are a forum for communication, not a place for someone drunk on the attention to drone on to a captive audience. Resist the urge to do it yourself – and if you’re running a meeting and someone’s turning it into a one man (or woman) show, ensure that everyone else’s opinion is also heard.

Rule three: stick to the allocated time…

Our booth was booked for two hours, but somehow – and I’m really not quite sure how - this became three hours. No doubt about it, we were having a great time…but once you’re singing the Macarena, you know you’ve outstayed your welcome. The last hour is simply never as good as you think it’s going to be.

It’s the same in meetings. A time-frame is healthy: it gives a meeting a sense of urgency, purpose and direction. But meetings that over-run invariably peter out. Set a timeframe for the meeting and stick to it – it makes everyone concentrate and forces you to discuss all the things you actually wanted to discuss.

Well that’s it. The unwritten rules have now been…written. So remember to apply them the next time you have a meeting. Or go to karaoke!

What tips do you have for better meetings (or better karaoke sessions)?

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