Simple idea today, that recently came up in a coaching session.
My colleagues and I talk all the time about great communication skills, and all the things that help create those skills. We believe that when we take the time to prepare for our meetings, presentations and calls, we will do a much better job creating success, and not wasting other people’s time. Sounds obvious, I know… but every day we see people struggle to actually make this happen.
One of the root causes we see all the time is lack of time. We all suffer from a lack of time, perhaps because we have lots of people demanding things from us. Or perhaps we are crappy at managing our own time. The cause of your lack of time might differ from mine, but the net result is the same. When we don’t have enough time, things don’t get done, and among other things, our communication preparation suffers.
So, in this coaching discussion the other day, we worked on better communication skills, without ever actually discussing communication. We worked on ways to create more time in the day and the week, so that there was more time available to, among other things, prepare for meetings and calls better.
Some of the strategies we discussed:
- Plan meetings to last less than an hour, so you have time between meetings to think and breathe.
- Schedule some desk time into each day so you can think and plan and breathe.
- On Sunday night review your upcoming week and think about the critical calendar items that will require some prep. Make sure you allow time for that prep.
- Last thing each day before you head home, look at the next day’s calendar and think about the items that you will need to be at your best for.
- Always have a purpose for the meetings and calls you organize, so that the meeting has a better chance of ending on time. Circulate agenda ahead of time.
- Only invite people who need to be there.
- Keep the conversation on topic. Facilitate respectfully but strongly.
- Follow-up with action items and important walk-away points immediately. This sets up the NEXT meeting.
- If you have some support around you, use that support wisely to help you leverage your time. Develop a close relationship with that support person so that they know how to help you.
- Avoid scheduling things at your “bad” time of day. For some that might be early morning. For others, late afternoon. Be self-aware enough so that you can try to have your most important meetings when you are at your best.
You get the idea. Simple and obvious? Perhaps. But again… most people struggle to create the time they need. When you do a good job managing your time, you will have more time to do a good job preparing for your meetings, calls and presentations. There is a direct cause and effect between good time management and good communication.
Have a great day!