Meeting Room Hacks Episode 4 - Remove some furniture
(it’s not what you think)
A large table surrounded by chairs. Some awards scattered along the walls. Wires everywhere. Window blinds drawn and secured. A faint smell of potpourri coming from a pot of cold coffee. A presentation with walls and walls of text that you can read later. No wonder people spend their time on Facebook rather than paying attention to the discussion.
We’ve come to think of meetings as a necessary evil - they take up a lot of our time, leave us disengaged and downright bored. But it’s not because they’re necessarily boring themselves - style is the culprit here.
See, most meetings involve 2 parties - the audience and the presenter. The presenter rarely has an adequate amount of time to prepare their presentation, so what happens is that we tend to confuse a memory aid (the slides) with this:
Not that there’s anything wrong with it per se. But in a meeting context, this kind of leaflet is best left aside. Maybe shared as a parting gift, a sort of summary for those who didn’t bother to take notes.
But when you take that leaflet - with all its icons, colours, shapes and squiggly lines, what you do is create competition between yourself and another object of interest.
Your presentation should be visually appealing, but lacking in information. It should incite rather than explain. For instance, let’s say your job is to present a new type of plywood that’s stronger than ever before and lighter than all other types of plywood. You could, of course, describe the Whys and Hows on your slides. Or you could simply ask your audience, via your slide, this:
And then follow up, in your speech, with a couple of facts and figures explaining how that writing desk, sturdy and stiff as it is, is made of (your type of) plywood and weighs just as much as a raven.
You suddenly became the most interesting object in the room because you held the answer to an outrageous question that occupied people’s minds.