This Message Will Self-Destruct

You have thirty seconds to deliver your pitch. Are you ready?

If I had to pick a single domain where I’ve shifted my perspective dramatically over the past ten years, it’s the use of time. I can’t count the number of projects where I needed to deliver an important message about change that required sixty minutes, only to be given sixty seconds (and yes, I know what this says about leader buy-in for my initiative).

I changed my approach. “I need sixty minutes to really cover all of the facts, but I’ll take what you can give me.”

20 minutes? I’ll give you the key points and timeline.
10 minutes? Let me explain the biggest benefits and where we expect people to have challenges.
5 minutes? I will highlight the most important aspect of this change for your team.
Just 1 minute left as you’re closing the meeting? I’ll drop a provocative fact in your lap and leave you wanting more. Call me…

Yes, it can be done if you know your stuff. 

Now, apply this to your meetings with a weak agenda featuring rambling accolades. “Hey George, you have thirty seconds before your computer self-destructs! What’s your point?” 

If you are running a meeting where the content doesn’t apply to everyone in the room, then you invited the wrong people. If you are repeating messages that could have been accurately delivered in an email, you are wasting their time. They can read faster than you can type. If people don’t read emails and the message is critical, call a meeting, but keep it focused on ACTION. Empower them to do something.

When people book an hour of my time, it’s become common for me to suggest we can cover the objective in 30 minutes. It’s amazing how much faster people move when you shift the expectation.

Here’s the secret to productive meetings and rapid message delivery: KNOW YOUR OBJECTIVES! Homing in on what’s most pertinent helps strip away everything unnecessary. Start with the objectives and finish by acknowledging their completion.

As Alan Weiss often says, “I can create another dollar, but I can’t create another minute.” Count the cost of time before it self-destructs. You have thirty seconds.

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper