BY BOB MIODONSKI
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
DENVER — In preparing for a business meeting, you should devote most of your attention to how you start it and how you end it because they are the most important parts, consultant Cindy Rae Pautzke told members of the best practices group Nexstar Oct. 13 during their Super Meeting here.
"People will remember 90% of the beginning of the meeting, and 80% will remember how you end it," she said, adding that they will recall about 50% to 60% of the middle. "People will remember the beginning and end disproportionately with the rest of the meeting. Spend time on how you start and end your meetings.
"Your opener today could become your closer tomorrow if you modify it."
As owner and president of Participant Centered Results, Pautzke said she believes that successful meetings must consist of more than just a contractor talking to his employees or customers. People generally remember only about 20% of what they hear, she noted.
The percentage of the content that people remember goes up to 30% when they see something and to 50% when they both hear and see something, she said. It soars to 80% when they say something themselves at a meeting and to 90% when they say it and then demonstrate it to others.
"What occurs between you and participants is not as powerful as what occurs between participants, if you design the meeting properly," Pautzke said.
She suggested a half-dozen ways to open a meeting that would get people involved right away. She called one of them the "Shake ‘Em Up," which first poses a question to the group and asks each participant to write a response on a piece of paper. The responses go into a bag, which is then shaken. Participants reach into the bag and read what they picked out to the group, which discusses the different ideas.
Closing a meeting effectively can be an opportunity to celebrate what has just been accomplished and link together the points made. It's also the time to share action plans and to encourage participants to continue to network with one another.
Getting people to participate in meetings can make them more enjoyable too. She cautioned Nexstar members, however, about losing sight of the meeting's objective.
"Do not have fun for fun itself," she said. "Link fun to content or you will lose credibility as a business leader."
The meeting's content should be divided into three chunks: critical content; content that supports or complements the critical part; and reference materials.
"The critical content should be the smallest chunk or the shortest in terms of time, but it should be business results oriented," she said.
Although her seminar was titled, "Leading Powerful Meetings," Pautzke demonstrated how the same principles could apply to company training programs. She asked Nexstar members to rank seven types of instruction on the "Learning Pyramid," which shows the average percentage of retention of material 24 hours after each method is used.
At the top of the pyramid is a lecture by an instructor, with an average retention rate of 5%. It's the least effective form of instruction, she said.
Next is reading at 10% and then audio-visual materials, such as a movie, at 20%. When content is demonstrated by an instructor, the retention rate jumps to 30%. Discussion groups bring the rate to 50%.
When participants practice the material by doing it, the retention rate rises to 75%. The most effective method, at 90%, is when participants teach others by making immediate use of what they've learned.
For more information about Nexstar, call 888/609-5490 or visit www.nexstarnetwork.com.