The Science Behind Meaningful Meetings
I'm sure there are about 25,000 similar articles compared to this one but we're going to take a different approach than what you might see in other publications. There's no sense in talking about the “opinions” of a meaningful meeting. Instead, let's focus on the things we know impact meetings from a subconscious and psychological perspective.
Every Meeting Counts — or at least it should
If you are simply meeting for meetings sake, you’re wasting the collective time of you and your counterparts. You might even be wasting money, depending on if the meeting requires travel. Even those specifically in support and customer success roles need to have a purpose for their meeting. Every meeting should have an agenda that all parties have agreed upon. In fact, you should even ask if the scheduled meeting requires a formal sit-down, or if a call or email will suffice. However, if you’re relationship with the other party is not in great standing, they might not be upfront with you because they think you don't care in the first place. Be sure you're confident when you determine a meeting isn’t needed and, if the relationship needs some help, the time might be worth it either way.
Laptops and Devices Ruin Collaboration
Have you ever been in a meeting where you, or someone else glances at their watch or phone and someone immediately says, “I’m sorry, do you have somewhere you need to be?" Now consider this; have you ever wondered whether or not someone with a laptop open is truly paying attention or if they are skimming the news or social media? Are they even paying attention? When you use devices, you are killing collaboration and mentally detracting focus from what matters.
If You Aren’t Taking Handwritten Notes, You’re Hurting Yourself
Let’s say you took notes in a meeting on a laptop at your last meeting—maybe you always do. Not only have you potentially impacted the meeting collaboration and focus, but you’re also hurting yourself. Two studies from UCLA and Stanford have shown that note-takers perform better in recall and acuity when compared to those who took notes digitally. Even if you take the time to write down notes and add them to a digital record later, the benefits remain.
Handwritten notes aren’t just important for the aforementioned reasons, but also for their ability to pull out nuance and culture. Ever heard someone say, “Now you’re speaking my language!” It’s not just a cliche. It’s also critically important in sales when recognizing subtleties and problems. Taking notes allows you to better communicate in your customer’s language—which means greater relationship building and perception of attentiveness.
You Might Be Creating Negative Perceptions
I don’t know why, but I am always fascinated—and fall victim to click-bate—by body language. Have you ever seen those articles discussing the body language of Melania Trump, Barack Obama, Princess Kate, or Meghan Markle? I have! What do you think your body language is saying to your customer or meeting counterparts? Experts agree that placing objects in front of you and between you and others is considered an Advanced Defensive Tactic. Flat objects don’t really create the same impact as a vertical screen that hides you. When you do this, you appear to be nervous, hiding something, and insecure. To others, subconsciously, you're creating perceptions of mistrust, lack of knowledge, discomfort, unwillingness to open up, and other negative opinions. Whether you or the other people realize it, you’re being judged and while they might not know why, they may leave saying, “I don’t know why, but I just don’t trust the guy.”
Long Story Short, Take Notes and Put Your Devices Away
While other articles might focus more on content of meetings and time limits and how to build your Powerpoint, don’t forget that every meeting starts with you, as a person. Take the time to understand if the meeting is necessary and agree on an agenda. Keep in mind the small stuff, which can be minor changes to meeting etiquette, that can ultimately help you remember more important details, and create a better perception of you as a trusted partner, consultant and advisor. Put the laptop away and pull out your notebook.