A book for ambitious and time poor people, Win Fast focuses on improving personal and business performance quickly. Siimon Reynolds asks, ‘What does it take to rise up the career ladder at double speed?’ The answer is willpower and hard work, but also taking actions and using tactics that your competitors haven’t even thought of.
In this passage from Win Fast, Reynolds offers suggestions on how to shine in meetings.
TO DOMINATE MEETINGS, ASK QUESTIONS
Doing meetings well is both an art and a science.
It’s an art because it involves intuition and empathy – you need to intuit the meaning and true intent and desires that exist behind what people are saying. Their words being just a small portion of the total data you need to analyse.
It’s a science because there are some specific techniques you can use that will dramatically increase your success whenever you meet with people.
I’m going to teach you one method that I’ve developed and enhanced over the years that can help you get optimised results in any meeting.
It’s built around asking questions. I’ve observed that the person who dominates and makes the biggest impression in a meeting is almost always the person who asks the most questions. So if you want to shine in a meeting, if you want to get noticed or establish your seniority and exhibit more power, then you need to ask a lot of questions.
Here’s why it’s so effective.
The person who asks the most questions controls the meeting. People are either looking at the one who is doing the asking or responding to what they said. Consequently the centre of the meeting becomes the question asker.
It’s almost impossible to make a wrong step asking questions. It’s a whole lot easier to ask intelligent questions than to give intelligent answers! You apply pressure on others and avoid it yourself.
Questions are easy to prepare prior to the meeting. Done well, they can make you look brilliant. (People often assume somebody asking a smart question must be wise. That is often not the case – perhaps they just prepared well before the meeting.)
To fully appreciate the advantages of asking the most questions, consider the inverse. What type of impression does someone who is quiet in a meeting give off?
Much of the time they look as though they are less powerful, less impactful, less involved and less cognisant of the issues being discussed.
(The exception to this is when someone known to everybody in the room as the boss is silent. Their power is already firmly established, so silence can work well for them.)
Here are some tips for dominating meetings with questions.
Prepare your questions well before the meeting. Ten or twenty minutes brainstorming a series of perceptive questions a day before the meet-up is scheduled is time very well spent.
Also allocate some time to think through different directions the meeting may head in. You might create some lists for each. If you think the meeting could go in one direction, design some questions around that. If it could head in another direction, you prepare a few questions for that eventuality.
Always have a few provocative questions up your sleeve. But make sure you deliver them with a warm and friendly tone of voice.
One last tip. If you have no idea what to say in a meeting and you’re in danger of being a minor player, you can exert instant control by asking some general ‘more information please’ questions.
Like the following: ‘Why do you think that?’ ‘Is there any data to support that?’ ‘Can you go a little deeper with that thought?’ ‘What’s your level of confidence that this is going to happen?’ ‘That’s interesting. Can you tell me more about that?’ ‘Well, what would you suggest to fix that?’
These are easy to ask but can really make an impact in a meeting and greatly enhance your status in it. If you want to dominate meetings, questions are the answer. No question.
WIN FAST ACTION STEPS
• One of the best tools you can have in business and life is a series of memorised questions that you can use in any conversation, which can make you look good, get people to open up and help to build trust with others. Using the examples above as thought-starters, write a few of your own that you feel comfortable asking regularly.
• Now commit them to memory, then use them as soon as you can in some conversations over the next few days.