Archive for May, 2012

Business Success: Debrief #2

Have you ever wondered what people really thought? Have you ever second guessed yourself? If you are like me, those thoughts crossed your mind. Maybe the thought was fleeting or maybe it lingered, but the thought did exist.

With a group meeting it is even more important to debrief, analyze what went well, what did not go as well as desired and what could be better next time.

1. What was the purpose, premise, of the meeting? If you can capsulate (summarize) the meeting premise in one sentence, you are totally clear about your message. If you are not clear, how can you possibly expect the audience to be clear? What does the confused or overwhelmed mind do? That’s right. Nothing.

During the property management days of Mountain Castles in Steamboat Springs Ski Resort, one of the required meetings was an annual homeowners meeting with the Highlands Townhome Association. International Financial Genius, Strictly Legal and Forever Cranky were the owners of the triplex. “Welcome to the Highlands Townhome Association annual meeting. We will go over the current budget, current year expenses and the proposed budget for next year before we open for specific questions.” The tall financial genius peered over his wire frame glasses, “Elaine, explain each of the expenditures in the refinishing of the front doors and the roof repair.’ “Certainly, turn to page 4 of your handout to view each receipt for the roof repair and note the summary sheet adding each receipt to match the total shown on the Expense document.” Forever Cranky piped up, “I don’t like Tin Man Roofing. Why did you use him? Why didn’t you use my brother in law to do the repair? He could have done the job instead.” “Yes, your brother in law could have done the job but his bid was $1,474 higher and he could not guarantee a start date. The roof was leaking into your living room as you recall.” Strictly legal said, “Your brother in law did not have the proper workmen’s compensation policy and we were exposed to liability if one of his men had an accident.”

So it went for each and every expense category for the entire year. Thank goodness that coffee and cookies were served rather than wine. There was more than enough whining from Forever Cranky.

The purpose of the meeting was the annual homeowner’s association meeting. We were there to discuss the past budget and how each expense for the year matched, exceeded or came in under budget. With that information in mind, the next step was to agree on a budget for the upcoming year.

Even when the purpose is clear and the meeting is well organized and documented, there can be conflict.

What went well? The documentation was in place. Experience and advice from seasoned association manager helped dodge that bullet; they told me to have every potentially questionable receipt copied and available for distribution. Both Financial Genius and Strictly Legal were pleased. Fortunately the refreshments were non-alcoholic but perhaps non-sugar snacks would even have been wise.

Time of day can also be a consideration. If the ideal length of time for the meeting is 2 hours, convene at 10 am. The meeting may be interesting, but lunch may be more appealing. In a potentially contentious meeting, avoiding evening meetings may eliminate the issue of alcoholic beverages prior to the meeting.

What did not go well? Forever Cranky was not happy, but then Forever Cranky is never happy with anything. Steve Gorches stated in his article Gorch on the Porch, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
(Author unknown for the quote). Gorches went on to say, “That should be the motto of our business.”

Do the best you can, analyze the total meeting and “get over it.” If Forever Cranky is pleased, consider it a bonus and move forward.

What could have been done differently? This precise exercise of what worked, what did not work and what could be different resulted in this meeting being a vast improvement over the previous meetings. Perhaps holding the meeting on neutral ground rather than in my office would diffuse potential tension. Records are readily available in the office for unexpected questions; however my office is my turf and my comfort zone. It is a point of consideration.

The criteria is:
1. A clear premise, purpose, for the meeting; clarity to the meeting planner and the audience
2. Debrief the meeting
a. What went well?
b. What could have gone better?
c. What can be done differently or better in the future?
3. How do you and the audience feel as a result of the meeting? Was the objective achieved?

Careful planning and debriefing after the event creates more successful meetings.

Stay tuned for the next sections of debriefing the meeting.

For more information on debriefing, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com. Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com

Business Success: Debrief #1

How much of a success was your meeting? What is the point of holding a meeting? No one attends a meeting in hopes it will be ho hum, let me catch up on my email or let me get some sleep. Certainly, no one I know establishes and conducts a meeting with the intention of making it boring. How much point is there in speaking if you do not intend for anyone to listen?

Debrief your last meeting. Be honest and rate yourself and the entire meeting. How can you really know the answer? Ask the participants. If you are concerned about whether or not they will be candid, do it anonymous; do not even include the optional line for their name.

Come with me on a journey to end boring meetings by discovering what worked, what did not work and what can be improved for the next meeting. Debrief the event. Even a one-to-one encounter can benefit from a quick recap and debrief. Be honest, have you ever replayed an encounter with a person in your mind to say, “What did she really mean when she did _____ or said _______?” Ouch, if you are like me, you may even do a quick recap with a romantic prospect as well as with a business encounter.

There are seven stages to a more comprehensive debrief. Consequently, this will be a series.

Briefly, the elements are:

1. Audience feelings
2. Premise
3. What happened
4. How effective
5. Facts
6. Structure
7. Recap

1. Ask the participants how they felt. Did you touch their heart to tap in to their emotions? What emotions were evoked: anger, fear, joy, trust or amazement? What specific part of the presentation triggered these responses?

One of the models for determining the emotional effectiveness of a presentation is the Ed Tate, 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking and a Certified Speaking Professional, model. Ed refers to it as Head, Heart, Humor and Heavy Hitting. Does the sales training or presentation touch the head to evoke thought; does the speech, sales training or meeting make you think?

The season of political rhetoric booms out over the airwaves every few years. Sometimes it seems as if the gap between campaigns becomes increasingly smaller and smaller. Ah that the American waistline would shrink with the same frequency as the time gap between pontificating political speeches. Politicians strive to change the thought pattern of the voters and persuade them to align their thoughts with the specific candidate.

Presentations strive to impart information and inspire change in thoughts, emotions and actions. In the book Emotional Ice Water, the cover tag line is “It is not about what THEY say or do, it is about what YOU think, feel and do.” Effective presentations follow the same guideline; change the thoughts, feelings and actions of the audience.

Ed Tate’s model speaks to touching the head to make you think and the heart to make you feel. The next element is humor to make you laugh.

Why is it important to make your audience laugh? The height of listening is immediately after the audience laughs. You only have to make them laugh if you want to be paid as a speaker. Providing opportunities for the audience to laugh also encourages them to want to listen rather than be forced to listen; forcing you to listen can be a stern parent, a boss or an unhappy lover. Forcing is rarely as effective in creating positive change as inspiring the audience to desire to listen. They want to know what is in the presentation to benefit them.

You are asking the audience how they felt about the presentation. Did it touch their head to make them think, their heart to make them feel or humor to make them laugh? Hopefully your presentation touched all 3. Thinking, feeling and laughing are all types of emotional responses.

The final emotional response which also ties to changing their thoughts, feelings and actions, is changing the behavior or actions of the audience. Remember the same principles apply whether the audience is one, ten or thousands. The techniques vary slightly with the size of the audience but the motivation remains the same.

The final element is inspiring change through the heavy hitting premise or as expressed in Emotional Ice Water, the walk away message. What do you want them to remember and repeat 3 days, 3 weeks or 3 years later? The heavy hitting point of the presentation is the walk away message. This is also known as the change in actions. What will you do? What do you as the creator of the meeting, sales training or presentation want the audience to do? Were you effective in creating that incentive to change thoughts, feelings and actions?

It is all about what the audience thinks, feels and does as a result of the presentation. The first step in the debrief is to determine the degree of change in thoughts, feelings and actions as a result of the presentation.

For more information on debriefing, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com. Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com

What do you think, feel and do

Get out of you own way

Customer Service, a Romantic Relationship

How you ask? A loving relationship requires attention and gentle nurturing. Do you think of a relationship like a light switch? If it is genuine, you do not automatically turn it off and on with a quick flip of the finger. Love is more like a dimmer switch which brightens or fades at varying degrees of speed. Love at first sight can cause the emotion to intensify in a short period of time and perhaps fade rapidly as well. Frequently love will deepen gradually with shared events, feelings and a more thorough understanding of each other’s playfulness and flaws.

Love at first sight can be the birth of a child; this deepens as the child grows from infant to adulthood. Granted there can be more electric and/or shocking periods as the child experiences the terrible two’s or teenage trauma. Love does not disappear during those times but it may undergo some stress in the relationship.

Customer service flows in a similar pattern. Ah, I hear your brain saying, “I’m beginning to get the connection.” When you first sign a contract with a new client, you are both anticipating a profitable and productive relationship. Naturally you are both eager to begin the process and discover the benefits of the new relationship.

Business involves people. With people come a variety of personalities; perhaps outside events (personal or other business factors) influence your business situation. The emotional current of those outside factors can create challenges causing the enthusiasm of this business situation to fade for a time. Just as the terrible two’s or teenage years can challenge a family relationship, so can outside factors challenge a business relationship.

This flow of emotional turmoil, emotional ice water, can be damaging at least temporarily to a business or a personal relationship. The fact that these challenges occur is undeniable. It is not about what happens outside your control; it is a matter of what you do that is within your control.

Just as that personal relationship requires patience, frequent attention and genuine communication, so does your business relationship. Customer service is about serving the customer. Serving the customer means more than produce a good product and deliver it on time, but follow up to determine how effectively the product is fulfilling the customer’s needs. Is the product solving the problem the customer expected it to solve? Is the product solving the customer’s problem in the way the customer anticipated that it would?

Follow up with the customer to determine:
1. What do you like about the product or service?
2. What would you like to have but do not have now?
3. What else can I do to assist you with this problem or another problem?

Just as a business relationship requires follow up and genuine intention to serve the customer, so a personal relationship requires heartfelt attention as well.

Relationships have common threads whether they are personal, inner company or client relationships. For more keys to effective customer service, hire Elaine Love to speak to your organization. The keys are simple, effective and highly profitable for all concerned when known and properly implemented. Customer service requires effective relationships. Effective relationships are more than just communication, they are sustained connections. To book Elaine Love, go to www.MeetElaineLove.com.

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”Elaine spoke to our top leaders from 8 states, she gave us new and positive ways to connect with people
which is EXACTLY what we wanted. Thanks Elaine”
-Tom Fajardo, State Farm