Pre-start Meetings — the most captive audience you will ever have that you probably aren't taking advantage of

The nature of mandatory, daily attendance at a pre start meeting does strange things to both leaders and attendee’s behaviour. It causes leaders to not feel obliged to create an environment which people want to be at as attendance is compulsory, and attendees don’t engage because they are forced to be there. A great way to start the day for all!

Why would we let our teams stand around for 15 minutes taking in little information (having a low ability to recall it also) and achieving no progress? On a site running a 13 day fortnight that’s 6.5 hours of unproductive time per person per month!

What we need is a shift in thinking, one to valuing the forum and fearing we aren’t adding value rather than one of mandatory compliance. Prestarts do not need to be stock standard information transferring sessions but an opportunity for leaders to enroll and engage the team to start the day off in the best possible mindset with all the required information.

Below is a shout out to improve the prestart meeting from an individual leader’s perspective, but can be used by senior leaders / support staff to coach leaders into being better presenters and getting those crucial messages across

Why improve?

Identify and understand the benefits of a pre start completed well by individuals who conduct them

  • Understand that you as a leader are constantly judged by the attendees
  • Competence is respected, confidence promotes unity, vision inspires

Starting the day with direction and focus

  • For yourself and your team, this creates a resilient and positive work environment.
  • Identify, communicate and put plans in place for achieving objectives and minimizing risk

Actions with a strong planned outcome drive performance

Listening cost is high (labour cost of everyone listening), are you generating value or reducing it?

How to improve:

Acknowledge your own personal style of delivery and then work towards your desired style

  • Respect that improvement only comes from trying new things, getting feedback and trying again. Incremental improvement won’t happen overnight but it will happen if you are diligent.

Engage a support person to assist and keep you motivated and on track

  • Pre starts aren’t given in a vacuum and it is difficult to be sufficiently reflective to drive change in your own behaviour. Enlist the help of a coach if you haven’t anyone to rely upon.

Choose small incremental steps to make a big improvement quickly

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day and habits require time to embed. It will take roughly 30 days to embed your improved habit, so stick it out and build on top of your improvements

Get that positive self-talk going and ignore the voices that say you can’t do it

  • Create a positive delusion to will yourself to say you can do it until you achieve your outcome. A positive self-fulfilling context will allow o overcome the hurdle of not starting.

What to improve:

Connect with your audience to increase engagement

  • Participation increases attention spans and makes information sticky

Know your content for confident delivery

  • No one likes someone reading a sheet — don’t be that person who can’t pre-read the information 10 minutes before the prestart

Transfer the information succinctly and clearly

  • Project your voice in short crisp sentences that carry to the rear of the room or area

Incorporate your personal style

  • Being genuine and natural allows people to relate to you and improves engagement.

Leverage other content producers / presenters

  • Work isn’t a solo mission, get others to assist to increase engagement, “volunteer” others if need be, some people just need a push

Acknowledge attendee influencers

  • Ensure that key individuals (not necessarily management or formal leaders) understand the message and are on board prior to delivery. If you aren’t clear with your message others will look to those informal leaders to identify how they interpreted your message.

Use stories to convey messages

  • Facts tell, stories sell. Incorporating stories into the meeting allow people to connect through shared experience and builds rapport & bonds within the group.

Bumper sticker to improve stickiness

  • No one remembers a paragraph, everyone remembers the one-liners. Summarise important messages to memorable one liners to assist retention of information.

Acknowledge memory retention and understanding

  • Use your window of opportunity and identify critical info, desired info and helpful info which the attendees need to retain for the shift. Cut your message in half if unsure and leave out the fluff.

Variety is the spice of life

  • The same content, speaker, time, location and information aint motivating anyone. Change up your speaking location, or the whole location, or the structure but do something. Imagine your meeting as a movie — would you want to attend the same move over and over?

Use Props or other visual representations

  • Everyone has a preferred style of receiving information yet by only utilizing verbal communications you are not capturing the other sections of the audience which prefer visual or written means of communication.

Source feedback to improve

  • Incorporate material seen elsewhere or methods to increase engagement, adopt principles or activities from other areas / presenters you see. Don’t be afraid to take something from standup comedy, scenes from movies or political figures to broaden and deepen your delivery style.

When we start the day in a positive, clear and mindful place we enjoy our struggles and don’t resent the challenges of the day. It makes that hill not so large, that deadline increasingly possible and that conflict not so unresolvable.

Hat tip to Gabrielle Dolan for some of the above points which are found in her book “Ignite” which I thoroughly recommend that all leaders read at least twice

Further reading: There isn’t any Safety related content in the above however if you want to read about leadership and risk suggest that you have a read of Following — Leading in Risk — A Humanising Dynamic by Rob Long

If you have any other tips, knacks or nudges to deliver better pre start meetings join in the conversation below to help out others who are keen to improve.

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