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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)

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Meetings You Need to Have – Part 2

November 2, 2012

Filed under: Meetings — @ 8:00 am

In my previous posting, I wrote about the importance of meeting with yourself every Monday morning so you can focus on what you need to do over the next week, as well as your long-term goals.

There’s a second meeting you need to have: a weekly conference with your team. After all, your team members cannot help you unless they know (1) what’s going on and (2) what needs to be done.

So, after you’ve met with yourself, meet with your team. I suggest the following items for your agenda.

    1. Everyone’s wins for the past week.

    2. New client retentions, including interesting information about the clients. This is important so (1) your team has a personal interest in the new clients and (2) they are aware of any sensitive issues that might come up.

    3. Reviewing the calendar for the next two weeks to see what’s scheduled and what people need to do.

    4. Reviewing work in process. This helps to prioritize what needs to be done, avoid work getting stale, and reduce bottlenecks.

    5. Going over any outstanding management issues, including progress reports on long-term goals.

    6. Discussing what we used to call “training tidbits.” This can be anything that helps people do their jobs; it might be as simple as talking about a newly-discovered keystroke in your word processing software.

    7. Soliciting suggestions for improvement (in anything).

It took me awhile to develop team meetings that worked. However, once we successfully implemented our Monday morning meetings, I found the meetings served to create a real team culture in the office, reduce conflict, get my employees emotionally invested in the business, and move my practice forward. In other words, our weekly meetings were essential.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Meetings You Need to Have – Part 1

October 31, 2012

Filed under: Meetings — @ 1:43 pm

I’ve previously blogged about meetings, how deadly they can be, and how to improve them.

However, some meetings are essential. I recently gave a presentation about focus management to a group of successful attorneys. Among other things, my co-presenter, Vinnie Bonazzoli, and I talked about weekly meetings you should schedule on your calendar. The audience surprised me by wanting to know more.

Vinnie and I both recommend that you have a meeting with yourself once a week. Why? So you can focus on what you need and want to do over the next seven days.

So, consider doing the following first thing every Monday morning:

    1. Close the door and turn off the ringer on your phone. DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL!

    2. Write down the good things you accomplished over the last week (to get your confidence up).

    3. Look at your calendar for the next week to see what’s coming up.

    4. Look at your revenue for the month. How close are you to your goal? How much money do you need to make this week?

    5. Look at your list of open cases and prioritize the work you need to do, with an eye to working on the cases that will bring in the most money.

    6. Check your long-term goals. What can you do this week to move them forward?

    7. Review your wins again (so you get your confidence up again).

If you do this every week, my guess is that you’ll have the necessary clarity to accomplish what you want. On the other hand, if you don’t have your self-management meeting, I predict you’ll have trouble growing your business — and be frustrated by the feeling that you’re constantly running just to stay in place.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Top Ten Mistakes for Public Speaking…or For Client Meetings

July 13, 2012

Filed under: Meetings,Public Speaking — @ 8:00 am

Recently, I came across an article, “Top 10 Mistakes Speakers Make.” According to the authors, the following are the most common ways you can ruin a speaking presentation:

    1. Not giving enough value to the members of the audience.
    2. Focusing too much on content, rather than on the people in front of you.
    3. Being more concerned about you, the speaker, than about the audience.
    4. Thinking the audience is scary, rather than a group of nice people.
    5. Sounding canned.
    6. Speaking too fast and trying to convey too much information.
    7. Not pausing so a listener can absorb what you’re saying.
    8. Not making an offer that looks like a compelling opportunity.
    9. Speaking to people who aren’t in your target market.
    10. Not being yourself.

What struck me when I read these rules is that they apply not only to public speaking — whether in court, at a professional meeting, or during a retail seminar — but also to client meetings.

When I first started my own law practice, I struggled with running an initial client meeting successfully. I eventually got to the point where I could go into a meeting with confidence that I was likely to be retained by the potential client, but I think it would have taken me a lot less time for me to get there if I had been aware of these rules.

So, I suggest that the next time you have a meeting with a potential new client — or with anyone, for that matter — try to keep these rules in mind. Remember to focus on the client and respond to his/her questions; remember to bring value to the conversation; and, above all, remember to be yourself!

Please let me know how this helps you!

Are You (Yawn) Enduring Another Meeting?

February 10, 2012

Filed under: Meetings — @ 2:07 pm

In a previous blog posting, I wrote about how awful meetings can be. Apparently other people share my opinion. I recently ran across an article, “Five Ways to Tame Out-of-Control Meetings” in the Los Angeles Times. The article suggests five techniques to make meetings more bearable:

    1. Set goals for the meeting — figure out what you really want to accomplish.

    2. Hand out materials ahead of time — and insist that people review the materials — so everyone in the meeting will be prepared.

    3. Set a time limit for the meeting.

    4. Make it a stand-up meeting (that is, no one sits down).

    5. Review everyone’s action steps at the end of the meeting.

These are great suggestions.

However, I think you have to use the rules in light of all the purposes of a meeting. I always encourage my coaching clients to have weekly meetings with their team members. The purpose of the meeting, of course, is to review the previous week and set goals for the upcoming week.

However, another reason for the meeting is to bond with and empower your team — if your team members feel connected and involved in the decision-making process, they’re more likely to be invested in driving your business forward. So, I’m not sure having a stand-up meeting works under those circumstances.

Nor do I recommend stand-up meetings with clients. Do you?

Please let me know how this helps you!

I Hate Meetings!

October 19, 2011

Filed under: Meetings — @ 1:05 pm

When I was practicing law, I attended a lot of meetings. In fact, as an estate planning attorney, I made my living by meeting with clients, potential clients, referral sources, and potential referral sources. Some went well, some didn’t go so well.

Bad, bad, bad. So, why, as a general rule, do we do such a bad job running meetings? I mean, how many dreadful meetings/hearings have you sat through? Well, as usual, nobody in law school thought to teach meeting technique.

The nadir of my meeting career happened when client wife and I were discussing home decorating concerns. Client husband sat patiently for about two minutes and then announced, “This isn’t the way I run my meetings!”

How to make it better. What I took away from the experience (apart from a very embarrassing memory) was the realization that although you have to run a meeting to be entertaining for the participants, you’re also meeting for a purpose and you can’t get too far off track. That’s why Robert Half’s article, “Meetings: Frustrating Facilitators and Annoying Attendees” interested me. Half’s article identifies seven kinds of meeting killers and gives pointers on how to handle them.

Terrible technology. One of my pet peeves about meetings is the ham-handed use of technology. How many times have you seen someone fooling with the data projector to the detriment of them and their audience? Instead of serving as a useful tool, technology badly handled can quickly turn into a means of defeating your purpose (for an extreme example, check out “Next Slide” on the “Attorney at Work” blog).

Meet for a purpose. So, just as with everything else about practicing law and running a business, if we are going to run a meeting, we need to do it well. That means preparation. We have to decide what we want to accomplish with our meeting: do we want to be retained by a new client? Convince a colleague to work with us? Convince a judge or jury of the righteousness of our client’s position? And if so, how is the meeting structure and how are the meeting attendees going to get us to our goal?

Please let me know how this helps you!