The Seven Deadly Sins of Failed Meetings

It’s easy to gloat about previous success…but does that help you achieve success right now?

The past few years have seen a large push toward streamlining traditional business practices. The class system has begun to blur as responsibility is deferred throughout the company more efficiently. One employee can now do the jobs of many.

Some of us are able to telecommute full time from our own home office while collecting  a regular paycheck. Yet the art of conducting effective meetings still escapes many of us.

Seven years ago I started my own company, and ventured out into the world of the unknown, blindly full of ambition.

Within the first few months I pitched concepts over breakfast. Dined over proposal lunches. And began to twiddle my thumbs during discovery meetings with after work drinks. It seemed the larger the client the less organized any of the meetings were.

These are seven common tendencies that I noticed during each meeting. Avoid them at all costs if you want to be successful.

Lust: The ornate desire to satisfy everyone in the room.

Don’t be afraid to disagree with someone, or everyone, in the room. Meetings are about change. Having the confidence to stand up and rationalize your reasoning, concerns or praise can change the course of a company.

A majority of meetings are conducted to:

  • discuss the need for inter-office changes to take place
  • propose your services to a new client and suggest they change providers
  • review progress of a specific project and determine what changes need to take place

Change doesn’t happen by playing nice and hoping we can all hold hands. Change is born from preparation and determination.

Be the solution and stand up for the right decisions. Even when they are not the most popular.

Gluttony: An unrestrained eagerness.

If you are provided the opportunity to meet with someone and better your business, increase revenue, or expand your network do not act like a dog in heat. Do not pitch everything you have at the notion of slight interest.

To have the upper hand in anything, you need to keep a few key cards close to your vest. Provide the savory details on projects or services they want and then give them a taste of what is possible down the road. It will keep them around much longer.

Harness mystique to trigger sustainable interest in what you can provide them.

…act like you’ve been there before.” – Vince Lombardi

Greed: Disloyal behavior and deliberate betrayal.

Earlier this year there was an interesting story about disloyalty between video game developer Infinity Ward, the makers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and their publisher Activision.

Success does not entitle you to anything. It means you did the job you were asked to do.

On January 16, 2010 Los Angeles Times reported that sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had exceeded $1 billion worldwide in just two months. In March 2010, Infinity Ward studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired. Why? They were disloyal to their publisher by meeting with their biggest competitor to better their positions for wealth, status and power.

Success does not entitle you to anything. It means you did the job you were asked to do and did it well. Meeting with competitors, or clients that work with them, against the terms of a current contract is a recipe for disaster.

Sloth: Laziness and lack of enthusiasm.

If you can’t find a reason to be excited about your own words…don’t speak.

Not surprisingly, there is an overabundance of sloths in the corporate world right now. They are part of a time forgotten and passed by in the last five to ten years.

Sloths conduct one sided meetings that aren’t about communicating needs. Their meetings are about getting from Point A to Point B with a process that lacks any sort of engagement or clarity.

To conduct an effective meeting you need engagement. You need to listen just as much as you speak. Not just to words but to body language.

A sloth doesn’t get excited by their own involvement. If you can’t find a reason to be excited about your own words that describe your intent, don’t speak. Your lack of interest will turn off other attendees and prospective clients.

If you act like you don’t want to be there, why should they?

Wrath: Letting emotion dictate your actions.

The larger you are the larger the damage control.

Impromptu meetings fueled by emotions can result in two things: lighting a fire under the ass of people that have previously burned out, or losing respect and control of everyone in the room.

Upsetting clients or co-workers with ill-timed and unprofessional responses are not the key to sustainable business. This statement lends itself very well to Social Media as well.

Think before you speak vocally or through written word.

Remember that every decision has the potential to greatly effect your bottom line and overall goals. Lead by emotion you are more likely to lash out and make rash decisions based on the heat of the moment. Decisions that will require a lot of damage control.

The larger you are the larger the damage control.

Envy: Copying others to save time.

Often times I will review competitor campaigns and designs with clients during my discovery phase to get a better understanding for their specific market needs.

Once in a great while I am asked to, more or less, copy creative from a larger national brand but change it enough “so it isn’t a problem“.

It is important that you fight the urge to “save time” through copying and put real time into the development of successful ideas, designs and campaigns.

The solution you, or your clients, need will be custom to your situation.

Copying others will cheapen your brand and do more damage than good.

Pride: Relying on past success for future success.

We are all guilty of this to some extent. I happily discuss how my approach to the discovery phase prior to conceptualizing work provides certain guarantees. But I don’t rely on that past success to win clients or make progress in a meeting. It’s a fun throw away comment to segue into more important topics. A transitional means to fill the void between the communication of needs.

To lead an effective meeting you need to prepare a set of goals

It’s easy to gloat about previous success or rattle of a who’s who of your industry but does that help you achieve success right now? Does that further your present meeting? Or is it used to pump your own ego up and say “look at me. look at what I have done” in hopes of you getting your way?

You may get a few ooos and ahhhs but effective meetings have a more robust importance than that.

To lead an effective meeting you need to prepare a set of goals specific to the meeting. Once you determine what the overall goal is (think: a specific increase in new sales, or subscribers) break that into three smaller goals. If you succeed in those smaller goals you have a higher probability of succeeding in the overall goal.

Succeeding in the present meeting helps sustain you for future successful meetings.

Most people are prisoners, thinking only about the future or living in the past. They are not in the present, and the present is where everything begins.” – Carlos Santana

This was part 4 of the Essential 5-part Productivity Guide series. Read Part 5: Making Life Changing Decisions

8 Comments

  1. Jim RaffelReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 6:12 am 

    Good reminders wrapped around and mixed in with your great analysis. Nice original thinking. Perhaps not original ideas but for sure an original way of looking at and presenting the concepts.

    Along the lines of not pitching everything I had the thought of not losing focus of the meeting as well. In a sales meeting I strive to present as few options as possible. (I know a web developer who does this very well the further the project moves along). Typically I try to present no more than 2 or maybe 3 options that are easy to select from.

    Anyway, keep up the great writing my friend.

  2. MegReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 7:27 am 

    …THANK YOU.

  3. Jim RaffelReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm 

    Good reminders wrapped around and mixed in with your great analysis. Nice original thinking. Perhaps not original ideas but for sure an original way of looking at and presenting the concepts. nnAlong the lines of not pitching everything I had the thought of not losing focus of the meeting as well. In a sales meeting I strive to present as few options as possible. (I know a web developer who does this very well the further the project moves along). Typically I try to present no more than 2 or maybe 3 options that are easy to select from.nnAnyway, keep up the great writing my friend.

  4. MegReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 2:27 pm 

    …THANK YOU.

  5. Joshua GarityReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 9:56 am 

    One could argue there are no original ideas, only original applications to existing ideas ;)

    I like your thinking on not pitching more than necessary. I literally just got out of a meeting where the client was asking about Social Media networking options instead of focusing on finalizing content to launch their website. I love the passion behind wanting to get out there but doing it half-assed or wrong is worse to your brand than not having one at all.

    Thanks Jim!

  6. Joshua GarityReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 9:56 am 

    …YOU ARE WELCOME.

  7. Joshua GarityReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm 

    …YOU ARE WELCOME.

  8. Joshua GarityReplyJuly 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm 

    One could argue there are no original ideas, only original applications to existing ideas ;)nnI like your thinking on not pitching more than necessary. I literally just got out of a meeting where the client was asking about Social Media networking options instead of focusing on finalizing content to launch their website. I love the passion behind wanting to get out there but doing it half-assed or wrong is worse to your brand than not having one at all.nnThanks Jim!

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