How to Breathe New Life Into Your Meetings

How would you rate the effectiveness of your franchisee group meetings? Most franchisors and franchisees have mixed feelings.

On one hand they value the opportunity to get together. But many franchisor executives say they are disappointed by what they see as a lack of engagement. A symptom of this can be dwindling attendances.

This does not need to be the case. I had breakfast with a client last week who was keen to tell me how he had implemented in his regional meetings some new group processes he had learnt from us.

He said, instead of the usual presentations to franchisees by him and his team, he asked his franchisees at the start of the meeting "What do you want to talk about?." They then created an agenda using our Group Scoop technique, which involves franchisees working in small groups to create a prioritised list.

He said it was the best meeting they'd had. Not only that, but every franchisee returned for the meeting the following month, keen to continue the discussions.

I am a fan of small group discussions because they greatly improve the quality of communication.

The injection myth

Successful communication is always a challenge because most of us fall for the trap of thinking it is about clearly informing people of what we want them to know. Social psychologist, Hugh Mackay, calls this "The Injection Myth" because it assumes people are passive receptacles willing to have our message injected into their brain.(By the way he has a great book called "why don't people listen?")

In reality it is what people do with our message that determines our success as communicators. This requires us to treat people as active participants in the communication process. The fact is they are going to interpret what they hear based on their hopes, fears, needs and beliefs.

For instance, you may tell a franchisee you want them to share financial information. But what they may hear is that you don't trust them, or you are going to use the information against them. You may say to someone you have come to help them with their business. But what they hear is you are going to interfere with their business. Get the point?

For this reason successful communication occurs when people put as much energy into listening as talking. And they check in occasionally to ensure the message being received is the message intended.

The power of small groups

When you are talking to a group of ten or more people it's hard to know how they have interpreted your comments. Even if you ask for questions, you will often get silence because most people do not like to speak in front of a group. Or you just get to hear (a lot) from the vocal minority.

Breaking people into smaller groups enables them to clarify what they have heard and formulate questions or comments which can then be safely communicated as coming from the group, rather than the individual. In this way we create more engagement and better quality communication.

So if you want to breath new life into your meetings try using small groups to get more participation and more effective sharing of information. If you need training or assistance with these processes give us a call.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan

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