There’s something about the arrival of summer vacation that makes me feel nostalgic. I remember how vast and infinite those three months felt to me as a boy. And I wish the same for my children: the sense that they have an endless string of free days stretching out before them, unstructured playtime, and the chance to be a kid.
Research underscores the importance of play – not just for children, but for adults. Workplaces that incorporate play reap considerable benefits. They ward off stress, spark creativity, heighten productivity, generate optimism and deepen relationships.
Summer is the perfect time to make time for play, “the gateway to vitality,” as the National Institute for Play puts it. Devote a morning to a creative workshop like floral arrangements. Take an archery lesson. Close shop early on a Friday for some wine sampling. Participate in a scavenger hunt and follow it up with a picnic at the park. You won’t regret it!
As we resume in-person meetings, we have a chance to do them better than before. We can be more thoughtful about our time together, leading meetings that are more effective and more comfortable.
Start with these 5 questions:
Who? Consider whether your meeting should involve an entire business team, a whole company or just a few insiders. What would make your audience members comfortable? Should you serve refreshments or food? Don’t be afraid to call clients’ office to learn their preferences in advance.
What? Determine what materials you need to convey your message and impress your audience. Research your clients to understand what is likely to persuade them. If you’re providing handouts, consider your paper and printing quality. Do you need sample products, spreadsheets or reports? Bring extra and know how you plan to weave them with your words.
When? At what time of day are you in top shape? Ask the same question of your audience members. More broadly, what’s the right juncture in the scope of a project to convene?
Where? Choose the optimal site for your meeting. Make sure the meeting room is adapted for your technology. Think creatively, post-Covid. Don’t cram people into an office or huddle a small team at the end of an otherwise empty conference table. What are the Covid policies at each particular site? Are masks required in the building? Can they be removed while speaking? Learn the protocol, weigh it and communicate it in advance.
Why? Having a clear purpose will help you tailor your message and hone in on the details your planning should address. If you stick to your purpose, everyone will appreciate the outcome: a shorter, more rewarding meeting.
The answers to these questions provide only the basic framework for thorough preparation. No two meetings are the same. It takes time and practice, but a well-planned meeting earns you respect – and the best opportunity for a new or continued partnership.
I enjoy learning about emotional intelligence and am grateful that Senior Instructor Angie Bennett introduced me to Ryan Holiday’s book “The Obstacle Is the Way.” Here’s a quote for you: “Great individuals, like great companies, find a way to transform weakness into strength. They took what should have held them back—what in fact might be holding you back right this very second—and used it to move forward. As it turns out, this is one thing all great men and women of history have in common. Like oxygen to a fire, obstacles became fuel for the blaze that was their ambition.”
“Loved this course even after being nervous about the speaking pieces. I was put at ease by Maria and the other participants and learned a lot in the 4-day session!”
-Health Insurance worker and recent Dardis grad
Now is the perfect time to develop your virtual communication skills for video calls, conferences, webinars, and virtual meetings. Harness a virtual advantage and develop the core skills necessary to connect with audiences no matter their physical location.
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