When the meeting starts
Before you can get down to business, the room often needs settling. Not always, but often.
Tell a joke or brief humorous story. A brief mildly self-deprecating story is fine, as it shows you to be arrogance-free.
Avoiding any sort of arrogance is vital.
Once arrogance appears it’s infectious. It spreads like wildfire and everybody gets puffed up on their pompous high horses – and no real thinking ever happens.
So it’s okay to appear a little nervous.
Thank you for coming. I was worried you couldn’t all make it.
It’s good to make a fuss of people. Let them know you’re glad they came.
If anyone is arrogant, or tight lipped or looks like they’re playing poker, then don’t start the meeting proper until they’ve relaxed.
You need to work the room wherever possible. It isn’t always possible, but it often is.
See it like this: Your job is get everyone in a reasonable state of mind and feeling comfortable. It’s an essential pre-condition to creativity.
Never neglect this, or be in too much of a hurry to get started.
What you’ll notice is that pompous or arrogant or nervous twitchy people often have to make a speech before the meeting can start.
These people will never be comfortable until they’ve made a speech, or otherwise impressed their person on the room.
So let them.
Don’t start the meeting proper until everyone looks settled and comfortable.
15 minutes of opening speeches may be irritating, but it isn’t unusual. Let it happen. Fighting only makes it worse.
Make a note of your last month’s meetings. How many proved difficult? Could you have avoided any of this by being less belligerent yourself?