Title:
5 Hidden Traps in Meetings

Word Count:
605

Summary:
People who take meetings for granted risk being a victim of a trap. Here they are and how to avoid them.

Keywords:
effective Meetings, One Great Meeting, Steve Kaye, Leadership, facilitator, business meeting, facilitation, minutes, agenda

Article Body:
If you have sat through a few bad meetings, you must have experienced the following traps. Here they are and how to fix them.

1) People think they are experts.

Many people tell me that they know how to hold a meeting. Actually, all they do is host a party. They invite guests, provide treats, and preside over a conversation. People talk. People eat. And nothing happens. Or, if they somehow manage to reach an agreement, no one implements it.

> What to do: Learn how to lead a real meeting. Schedule a workshop or buy a book. When results really matter, hire a facilitator. Recognize that there are modern tools that help people make methodical progress toward results. These tools are practical and easy to use. Of course, you have to know what they are in order to use them. Call me (714-528-1300) for details.

2) People think they are inspiring.

Many people believe that long-winded announcements impress others. Actually, it's the opposite. A long lecture quickly becomes a boring (and sometimes offensive) harangue. Why? Most employees want an active role in contributing to the business, and thus listening to a speech feels like a waste of time.

> What to do: Design meetings that give the attendees opportunities to contribute. Plan questions that direct thinking toward the results that you want. Use activities that help people make decisions. Distribute announcements in letters, memos, or E-mails. Or, if you must use a meeting, keep announcements brief (less than a few minutes).

3) People think others agree with them.

Many people rely on nods, smiles, and eye contact to measure acceptance. Actually, most employees will do anything to appease a boss. And if the boss seems to be upset, the employees will become even more agreeable. Then, once the meeting ends, the employees will do one of three things: 1) forget the lecture, 2) ignore the message, or 3) sabotage the idea.

> What to do: Conduct meetings by a process that everyone considers to be fair. Use consensus to reach agreements and make decisions. People will accept decisions that they helped make.

4) People think others are clairvoyant.

Many people call meetings without an agenda expecting that everyone will arrive sharing their vision for what needs to be done. Actually, everyone brings their private hopes, fears, and vision to the meeting. Without a clear agenda, the result is something between chitchat and chaos, depending upon the complexity of the issue.

Note: A vague agenda, such as a list of topics, is almost as useless as no agenda.

> What to do: Write out your goal for the meeting. Then prepare an agenda that is so complete someone else could use it to run the meeting without you. Specify each step and provide a time budget. Send the agenda at least a day before the meeting so that the attendees can use it to prepare. Call key participants before the meeting to check if they have questions or want to talk about the agenda.

5) People think meetings are necessary.

Many people respond to every emergency, surprise, or twitch by calling a meeting. Actually, a meeting is a special (and expensive) process. It should be used only to obtain results that require the efforts of a group of people working as a team. A meeting is NOT a universal cure for everything. Meetings held for the wrong reasons, waste everyone's time.

Title:
5 Mistakes I made in 2005

Word Count:
475

Summary:
Even though I’m pretty happy with how 2005 turned out, there are still some things I wish I had done differently. Here are 5 things I aim to change for 2006.

Keywords:
business strategies, growing a business, business success, business success strategies, marketing, copywriting, creativity

Article Body:
Even though I’m pretty happy with how 2005 turned out, there are still some things I wish I had done differently. Here are 5 things I aim to change for 2006

1. Didn’t take time out for me. I admit it, I have the typical entrepreneur bug. I spent way too much time working on my business and not nearly enough time on me. In 2006, I plan to take more breaks and schedule in some “me-time.”

2. Wasn’t as consistent with my own marketing. Much like not taking time out for me, I also struggled with not taking as much time as I should have for marketing my own business. (Remember the old adage of the shoemaker’s children running around barefoot? Marketing my clients’ businesses always came before my own.) Now, my business has grown rapidly, so although I’m not exactly complaining, I do wonder where I’d be if I had been more consistent about my own marketing.

3. Got distracted. One of my biggest problems is what my coach, Melanie Benson Strick, Success Connections, calls “bright shiny object syndrome.” That’s where you find yourself chasing all sorts of bright shiny objects (also known as “new” opportunities or “new” ideas) rather than focusing on your core business systems. What happens is you end up with a lot of half-finished or barely-started ideas and very few actually completed.

I unfortunately have this syndrome bad. Although I’m much better than I used to be, I still allowed myself to get distracted by a few half-baked plans in 2005.

Which leads me to #4…

4. Didn’t attain a couple of my business goals. Because I allowed myself to get distracted, I didn’t meet a couple of business goals in 2005. Needless to say, this mistake is at the top of my list of issues to address in 2006. Now that I know how to eliminate the vast majority of distractions, I’m looking forward to getting even more tasks accomplished in 2006.

5. Waited too long to do the things I did right. Okay, I know this is the wrong thing to focus on, but I just have to say it and then I can move on. 2005 was such a banner year for me and a large reason for that was because of the 5 Things I Did Right (you can read that article on my blog, http://www.writingusa.com/blog). But unfortunately, I also can’t help wondering where I would be if I hadn’t waited so long to start doing those things.

Okay, I said it, and now I can move on. But please, if nothing else, don’t make THIS same mistake – read my article on the 5 Things I Did Right and see if there are a few things you can implement in your business. That may be the ticket to turning 2006 into your best year ever.