Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Schmooze - Workshop Spots Still Available!

How to Schmooze - Workshop offered by Gilda Bonanno

Hate networking events because you never know what to say? Do you get stuck talking to the one person in the room that you know? Whether you're looking for new clients or a new job, or just looking to broaden your professional horizons, networking is a key ingredient of your success. This interactive session will teach you the techniques of successful networking so you can schmooze with ease.

Greenwich Adult Education, Greenwich, CT
Tuesday, March 3, 7-9 pm, $39 203-625-7474

Stamford Adult Education, Stamford, CT
Wednesday, February 25, 6-8 pm, $29 203-977-4209

Gilda's blog

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Meeting Tips

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

My last post/article was "Meetings That Work." Thank you for sending me your meeting tips - I've shared a few of your suggestions here.

Here's a great tip about the importance of meeting minutes from Paulette, a fellow Project Management Practitioner (PMP):

"Here's one post-meeting step that will make subsequent meetings easier. Produce minutes which capture attendees, basic discussion points leading to a decision and action items with associated responsible parties. When publishing ask for corrections to anything you may have misrepresented. This will make sure all who did not attend are informed. And by asking for corrections, if none are forthcoming then you have received agreement on all topics covered."

Paul shared a useful tip about rotating meeting roles from his experience working at an IT help desk:

"At our weekly team meeting with 10-15 employees and contractors, we would alternate the meeting roles each week - a meeting coordinator to run the meeting and keep to the agenda, a scribe to take notes, record to-do items and send minutes the same day and a timekeeper to keep the meeting on time. The manager was just a meeting attendee like the rest of us, and would be consulted for management-related decisions. If he could not attend that day, we could conduct the meeting anyhow.

It gave all of us a sense of participating in the meeting, rather just listening to a manager drone on and on. It helped people focus, also, since they knew what it was like to be responsible for conducting the meeting. Meetings always seemed to be over quicker, also. Since it was a small group of people we all worked with on a daily basis, it also helped the shy folks become more vocal."

And keep sending me your tips and meeting horror stories to be included in future posts...

Gilda's blog

Meetings That Work

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

"A meeting is a place where people take minutes and waste hours." Is this statement true of your meetings? Here are four tips for running meetings that are more productive and don't waste hours:

1. Have a Purpose for Meeting
"We always meet every Thursday at 4" is not a sufficient reason to meet. You should be able to state the purpose for meeting in one succinct sentence. Make this sentence your "opening statement" at the meeting and write it at the top of your agenda. Some examples: "We will decide how to pilot our new flex-time policy." "We will draft the high-level project plan for the software upgrade." "We will review the data from the survey and decide our next steps." If there is no purpose or if that purpose could be better achieved through different means, don't meet.

2. Have an Agenda
The agenda should include who will handle which topic and how long it should take. Send the agenda out before the meeting so the attendees will know what/how to prepare and what will be expected of them. Once you have an agenda, stick to it.

3. Stick to the Time
Make the most out of everyone's time by starting and ending the meeting on time. If people tend to come late, start on time anyway and don't repeat everything each time someone comes in late; eventually, people will get used to showing up on time. Have someone keep track of time during the meeting so everyone stays within their allotted time and there is time to go through the whole agenda.

4. Set the Ground Rules
If the group will meet often or for a long period of time, it's important to spend the first few minutes of the first meeting having the group develop ground rules for things such as the use of laptops/phones/email during meetings. People are more likely to hold each other and themselves accountable to the ground rules if they helped to develop them. Write them on a flipchart and post them in the meeting room or on the agenda sheet for the next meeting. Remind people of them at the start of the next meeting.

If you follow these tips, your meetings will become more productive. You'll achieve the purpose stated in the agenda while respecting people's time.
This post on effective meeting facilitation was requested by a subscriber. I'd love to hear some of your meeting horror stories or what tips you have found helpful in managing your meetings. Post them in the comments or email me - I'll share them in future posts and of course, names will be changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty)!

Gilda's blog

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How to Kill an Idea

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Overheard during a retail store remodeling:

Cashier to store manager: "Why don't we try [new idea]? When I worked at Caldor, we used to do that and it worked really well."

Store manager to cashier: "Well, Caldor went out of business. So I guess that idea didn't work too well now, did it?"

What a convenient excuse for killing a new idea.

The manager didn't care that the idea may have had nothing to do with Caldor's going out of business or that Caldor had been in business successfully for more than 40 years before going bankrupt. It sounds like this manager suffers from one of the following syndromes:

  • "It wasn't invented here!"
  • "This is the way we've always done it here!"
  • "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

How do you respond when someone suggests a new idea? Are you open to it? Or do you suffer from one of those syndromes and kill a new idea the moment it's suggested?

Not every idea suggested is a "good" one, but the manager should create an environment where ideas are welcomed and valued.

What are the odds that the cashier will ever suggest another idea to that store manager? Pretty slim. That's not how to build continuous improvement or employee engagement in any organization.

Gilda's blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Eliminate Those Overused Expressions!

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Is your communication full of cliches and tired old expressions? Frequently using phrases like "you know" and "see what I mean" can be just as distracting to your listeners as frequent "ums" and "ahs."

According to Jeremy Butterfield's book Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, here are the 10 most overused expressions:
  1. "At the end of the day"
  2. "Fairly unique"
  3. "I personally think"
  4. "At this moment in time"
  5. "With all due respect"
  6. "Absolutely"
  7. "It's a nightmare"
  8. "Shouldn't of" (the correct phrase would be "shouldn't have")
  9. "24/7"
  10. "It's not rocket science" (I use this phrase a lot and am working on cutting it out)
Compile your own top 10 list of overused phrases and then replace them in your communication with more powerful and evocative words.