I have learned – and am still learning – a great deal from many people. Wise things from wise people. Clever things from clever people. Funny things from funny people.
When I think about it, though, I know I have learned most from my family. They have taught me how to love. To laugh. And to live. And every day I learn something new that helps me, inspires me or just makes me pause and think twice.
My daughter is now eighteen but she taught me what defines a successful meeting a little over ten years ago when she was seven. We were sitting eating our family evening meal talking about a new job my sister-in-law had taken working as Personal Assistant to the head of UK charity. My wife and I were discussing what the role would involve when my daughter asked if being a Personal Assistant meant that her aunty would have to write the moments from the meetings.
We laughed and explained that it wasn’t meeting moments that my daughter was referring to – it was meeting minutes…and then I paused…and thought twice. ‘Meeting moments’, I said, ‘hmmm, you know what – I think you’re right… meeting moments sounds a much better idea that meeting minutes.
A minute is an ‘official record of proceedings’. A moment is a ‘brief period of time characterized by importance, distinction or significance’. The difference between meeting minutes and meeting moments is immediately apparent. We never forget the moments from a meeting. No-one can ever remember the minutes of a meeting. Meeting moments are communicated without request. Acted on without chasing. And deliver impact beyond expectation.
And from that ‘moment’ my goal for any meeting I run – big or small – became to do everything I can to ensure that every attendee leaves with their moments. Delivering ‘meeting moments’ is not always easy and – in truth – of course does not always happen, or does not always happen for everyone. But it’s always a worthwhile goal to have.
This week I lead five ‘all hands’ meetings and three ‘round table’ discussions over two days. We did not have anything major to communicate; it was more an opportunity to engage with colleagues, to take stock together and to look forward. I knew it was going to be a long couple of days. But what about the Moments?
In any Town Halls I attend, my main takeaway (moment) is the overall feel. Do presenters come over as a confident and competent? Enthused and inspired by what they are saying. Engaged and interactive…with each other and with the audience. I like to have as many ‘check marks’ against this list as possible. I dislike and immediately forget (have no moments from) sessions that are sombre, serious and uninspiring.
And delivering moments is my focus when I run Town Halls or Round Tables. For example, I always include pictures in any slide deck I use. Pictures have much more resonance than words. Pictures have a much higher chance of creating a moment. And energy is essential. Energy and enthusiasm in the discussions. I ask questions of the audience. A show of hands. Stand up. I look at faces. I seek to engage. It does not always work. Or does not always work for everyone. But my first measures of success are the moments I take away myself.
I also seek additional evidence for success. Evidence for creation of moments. In the meetings or immediately after. What are the new ideas, additional opportunities, difficult questions that appear? Who has been engaged and inspired to think, to ask, to propose or to challenge? What are the Meeting Moments?