You May Be An Expert, But Stop Wasting My Time

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Your Bio Was Intriguing, but Your Content was Incongruent

As a busy professional, I’d imagine you would agree with me that if your general opinion of meetings was published as a book, the title might be something like “Stop Wasting My Time”.  Each week, hundreds  thousands millions of meetings likely occur around the globe.  How in the world can you be sure the ones you choose to attend will be worth the time invested?

iStock_000004637317SmallHow to Choose Meetings You Should Attend

  1. Is it a “required” meeting?  If this is a standing appointment, you may still choose to “pass” from time to time.
    Weekly sales meetings are a good example. A well-run organization should appreciate that if you are not in the sales meeting because you are on an actual sales call with a customer or prospect, that is a good thing.
    However, if the meeting is your quarterly or annual review with your boss to discuss your performance, expectations, or special project you are being asked to head up, then this one probably is a meeting you should attend.
  2. Did you call the meeting?   Few examples in the world are more disrespectful than the one person who does not show up prepared (or, at all) for a meeting is the very person who called it. If you called it, you had most certainly show up (prepared) or respectfully cancel the meeting with plenty of lead time.  [Trust me, the attendees will appreciate getting some unexpected time back.]
  3. Is the topic relevant to you?  Take a look at the information regarding the presenter or the topic and decide if that message is relevant enough to your current projects, responsibilities or interests to take the time to attend.  If it is relevant, and you believe you will learn something from it, I’d say your attendance would be worthwhile.
  4. Who else do you expect to attend the meeting?  One of the best ways to get in front of a client, prospect, or influential person is to “happen to bump into them at a meeting” and learn you have a “shared interest in a topic.”  One of my most fun meetings occurred on a Saturday morning, 28-mile bicycle ride when nobody else showed up except for me and the director of an economic development team.  We showed up to ride bikes, but learned a lot about each other’s business, too!
  5. Geography If you live in a large, metropolitan area, the idea of “just across town” can literally mean an eighty-mile round trip, or worse- getting caught in a crushing traffic jam at least one-way of your traverse to attend the meeting.  If there is a 60-minute meeting that requires me to spend an hour or more in transit when I have no other business in the area or the above questions are void of compelling answers, I will likely skip it, no matter how much I “support the organization”.  It’s simply not the best use of my time.

not on timeRecently, a monthly group I have been recently attending (I even spoke to this particular group a couple of months prior) announced their program speaker. I went down the list above and determined that given the reputation of the speaker (he was quite credentialed) and the opportunity to network with a few people I expected to see there, that I’d make the 40 mile drive (one-way) “across town” to the meeting.  The lunch was tasty (maybe I should add a “culinary options” question to the list above as sushi is a definite plus for this particular meeting).  The conversation fed my creative brain with some ideas for my new program under development – another plus. But…. to say the featured speaker was running a little late would be an understatement.  He arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting.

As If That Wasn’t Enough…

The moderator for the event acknowledged the promised “running time” for the meeting and informed the late-arriving speaker he could still have 10-minutes to present. [Again, as a speaker who has traveled extensively, I understand that things happen.  I was annoyed, but kept an open mind.  “Let’s see what he can do with 10 minutes”, I thought.

Here Is Where He Lost Me

With great anticipation, and a hurried introduction, the presenter jumped right into his presentation.  I suppose the elephant in the room was his tardiness.  Without any explanation, he just started into his presentation….that he did not appear to tweak one iota. How do I know that, you ask?  His opening statement…I mean he built it up as a cardinal rule for meeting speakers…was “Rule #1″…. He spent three minutes (30% of his time) touting (are you ready for it?) the importance of arriving early at every speaking engagement to build connection with his audience! If that wasn’t enough, he then paused (remember, he’s only been given ten minutes to present) to shout out an order to the restaurant employee quietly clearing the table for an order of coffee…”black.”  I quietly packed up my notes, stood up, nodded to the meeting facilitator, and hit the door.  What a hack! [I later learned he went straight into a sales pitch from there.]

Damage Done

I have been on the fence about this particular group for a while.  I had made a specific point to attend, as this speaker had worked with some of the biggest names in the business.  His materials touted him to be “America’s #1 Expert on Sales“….too bad I didn’t stick around to hear his pitch! [Note:  He was there to promote an upcoming event to which he was selling tickets…I will NOT be attending.]

If you call a meeting – show up ready for it.  If you attend a meeting – know why you are there.  If someone wastes your time – question whether it is important enough for you to attend the next one.  And, if you are ever the featured speaker for a meeting, make sure you show up early to build some rapport with the audience or stop wasting my time!

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10 Replies to “You May Be An Expert, But Stop Wasting My Time”

  1. Talk about stress! I cannot believe that speaker went into his “canned” presentation. What a pain in the … I’m glad you got up and left. I was a sales manager for many years and this is NOT how to sell anything!

  2. AWESOME, much needed post, Scott! Can seem like we MUST attend EVERY meeting everywhere and I appreciate you giving us permission to set limits. (The 80 mile round trip meeting one is something I’ve struggled with — if the commute is longer than the meeting, and the meeting isn’t vital, SORRY but NO!) In Mexico, there isn’t as much of an emphasis on timeliness, so I have also developed some bad habits of being 10 minutes late to all my scheduled online meetings. And this article was ALSO a kick in the pants to myself. C’mon, Rach. To be early is to be on time…

  3. You bet, Rachael! Watch for my new project “IdeaCharger” to launch soon. You will find more posts, tips, techniques and “IdeaChargers” to make you wildly successful in all that you do. Be a leader, you Awesomepreneur, you!

  4. Wow. Just WOW.

    Firstly, I would be SO horribly embarrassed to show up AT THE START TIME. I would be so frazzled by the guilt that I know I wouldn’t be able to deliver value… and we all know we don’t buy anything if we can’t perceive value. This dude’s actions are certainly next level failure.

    He should have showed up wearing a T-shirt that read, “I don’t really care about you, but give me money.”

    So sad. However, you’re tips are right on and I appreciate that you shared them! Thank you so much for making me feel ok about wanting leave. I worry a lot about seeming un-polite but it didn’t occur to me until now that hosting an event badly is a form of being rude too. Time is the most valuable thing we have.

  5. If I can’t deliver value to an audience, I don’t deserve the audience to begin with. Thanks for weighing in on the article, and yes…If the speaker is wasting your time, feel free to depart. Your time is valuable, too!

  6. Sometimes people show you exactly what not to do. Love the list of considerations on whether or not you should attend a meeting. My theory: if you want high engagement at company meetings, have as few as possible so that they are something special. I’ve worked places where we might as well have called meetings to plan others meetings and unsurprisingly, there was usually low attendance.

  7. Honestly, I really appreciate guys like this.

    My whole business is built on caring more about my customer’s outcomes than anyone else.

    When someone pulls a stunt like this, they tell me we don’t need to get to know each-other better. What better gift could a salesperson give you than saying, “You don’t have to listen to me ever again.”?

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