How to master every meeting
The quick answer is:
Don’t defend yourself or your work.
I mean honestly who wouldn’t?
The story is your baby and the natural instinct would be to protect it, right?
Right. And it even is your duty to make sure your story stays intact.
Ok, but here comes the tricky part.
When I was starting out as a writer and had my first meetings, I was almost always in defense mode. Every note felt like a knife rammed into my heart.
I took every statement personally and thought that I was a bad writer and they were trying to lecture me.
Of course, as you can imagine, none of these writing assignments worked out.
I was getting frustrated and ready to quit. But the thing was, my scripts still got me meetings. That is odd I thought to myself: “If I’m such a bad writer, why do they keep calling?”
Turns out I wasn’t so bad after all, I was just a pain in ass to handle in meetings.
Then one day, I met another writer. He was way older, had much more experience and was the calmest person in the business. So I just sought his advice.
The first thing he did was laugh at me. “In know exactly where you coming from”, he said, “Been there, done that.” “Done what exactly?”, I asked.
“Defending my work.”
Seriously, up until that point I wasn’t seeing clearly.
I wasn’t aware of this defense strategy. I thought I was addressing the concerns and notes.
But he opened my eyes and said, that it was all about staying calm and listening.
They don’t want you to talk that much, actually.
Not talk that much? Huh? Really? Ok this was a Game changer, because I always thought that’s what meetings are for. Turns out they are in a sense, but there is a difference between talking about your passion for the project and the why you want to do it, versus being a smartass about every note that challenges you and your writing.
Stay calm in the meetings. Let others do the talking, mostly.
But try to listen very carefully.
Meetings are mainly about getting to know each other and your job is to figure out what they want. That’s it.
Listen closely, take notes literally, in order to keep track of what has been said and done in the room. Even write down what was odd or awkward. This way you can later reconstruct the meeting otherwise you will find that your mind starts to distort the facts and turns them into alternative facts (bad joke, I know, l’m sorry)
The other great thing if you stop talking so much is one, people will take that as confidence.
Seriously, nervous people talk too much, confident people know this. It doesn’t mean that they are not nervous, but they can deal with it better!
You will find out more about the others in the room.
Ok, I let you in on a secret.
You get to sell almost anything of you can attach people to the product. Of course anyone knows this, right? But what you’re probably not aware of so much is, the way to do so is:
Take what others lay emphasis on in their speeches and connect this either to your own experience and/or link it to the theme of your story or the journey of the protagonist.
It never fails, I promise.
This way people will understand your story better and will want to follow your lead and that’s exactly what you want.
You want to be in charge and lead!
Not be lead. Because this results in everyone in the room doubting your confidence and your ability to pull that of and they will try to fix it and this leads to awkward moments and indifferent statements in finally in them getting nervous. That’s when your screwed.
And this is why you shouldn’t defend your work and/or yourself.
It takes some practice for sure.
You can do this. Everyone can. There is no magic to it.
And the saying that, some people have it in them to perform and others do not, is not only a myth, it’s been made up by people who do not want so much competition. So whenever someone says something like this to you, walk away from this person, they will get you nowhere, but nowhere fast.
Start right now when you pitching your idea to friends and family.
Don’t overexplain, don’t defend. Listen and learn. If they do not get the first time, go back to your writing desk and fix it.