Meetings are something that are hard to do well, especially when you are trying to win new business or work a new connection. The nerves. The unknowns. The put-you-on-the-spot pitch process. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Aaron Frazin, CEO of Charlie, an app that compiles one-pagers to prep you to talk to people you take meetings with, recently spoke with Fast Company about his best tips to use to “kill at meetings.” And if anybody should know, it’s a guy whose startup is all about helping you kill at meetings.
“Screw the ‘say their name whenever possible, mimic their body gestures’ clichés–those will get you as far as those today’s clickbait articles: You had my attention for a second, but now I feel cheated. Doing well at meetings is about unlearning what the world is trying to teach you.
“Many of the songs you hear on the radio today have built-in mistakes. While they can be engineered to perfection, when your ears hear perfectly you naturally don’t trust the song–you don’t like it. The same goes with meetings. People today are overtrained, robotic, and overly positive. Being human is attractive and rare. Walk into a meeting and don’t know how to bring up what you learned about them? Be honest about it. “This is awkward. I have no clue how to bring this up, but man, the skiing photo you posted the other day on Instagram is amazing. I’m a huge skier too.”
“One of the reasons I landed our CTO was because before I met him, I did my research and found out we both loved rocking out at concerts, so I made sure the night he flew in we went to a concert and rocked out. I made a fool of myself on the dance floor. The point is, instead of pitching him on Charlie, we were on the dance floor–we were people interacting.
“Most people today spend more time preparing their script than they do learning about the other person. Forget about it. Spend all the time you have learning about the other person: what they really want, care about, feel about things, who they actually are. When someone feels like they matter, they’ll do the pitching for you. Especially when every other person comes in pitching their business and you come in pitching them.”
“The guy that we chose to do our PR was the guy who told me how awful my website was before he even told me his name. We interviewed over 20 PR firms, and they all said the same thing–about how exciting it was, about how great everything looked–except the guy we ended up with. The first thing he said was, ‘Your website sucks, it’s not an app and yet you have a picture of a smartphone, and you have to change this line, and that line, and this specific part is awful.’
“Everyone else charmed me with how good Charlie was, and how much they wanted it. But this guy was honest about things that showed he actually cared and did his research. If you are brutally honest about the things your client wants help with, and you are doing it not to knock them down but to help them be better, they’ll respect you and want to work with you.”