Set the stage


Ever walk into a meeting and for some unknown reason there is a tangible feeling of stress and tension?  It’s a little like that feeling you get when it’s that part of your annual physical.  Neither you or the doctor are all that comfortable with what’s going to happen over the next few seconds, but you turn and cough nonetheless.

I understand tension in the exam room, but why in the world would you have that same kind of tension in a meeting with your project team?  Knowingly or not, you receive the same message that you send out.  If you’re stressed out or not really excited about being there, everyone else in the meeting will automatically feel the same way.

Set the tone with your facial expressions and body language, long before you set the tone with your words.  If you want to get a lot accomplished, then walk into the meeting with high energy, smiling and making eye contact.  Shake hands with a few people and introduce yourself if you don’t know someone.  You’ll find it a lot easier to get the meeting going in the right direction, with great feedback, interesting ideas and consensus building.

Salesmen use this technique.  They smile and nod their head during their presentation even when they’re not asking a question.  The next thing you know, you’re nodding along with them and subconsciously you affirm the very points they are making without saying a word.

Why not use this tried and true method as you start your next meeting?

Be what you want others to become.

Think of it as setting the atmosphere of a theatrical performance.  Long before the first note is played or voice is heard – you walk into the theatre and there is a tangible feeling of anticipation.  Everyone is dressed nicely, couples are walking hand in hand, the staff is professional, the temperature is just right and there’s that unique theatre smell.  Not repulsive, just unique.  As you are escorted to your reserved seat, the lights dim and subtle background music is playing to help keep the conversations to a low hum.  You are being prepared, simply by the atmosphere you have entered into.

So, as a leader you set the stage for the performance that you want to see.

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