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English Communication: How to Put People at Ease at Meetings

English Communication: How to Put People at Ease at Meetings

Sometimes you are going to a meeting to persuade.  In that case, use the first five minutes to put people at ease.  People’s egos are on alert status the first few minutes of a meeting, and you want to relax them so they’ll be receptive to your ideas.

shutterstock_85385041One way to relax people is to bring lots of information with you.  If it’s the first time you’re meeting with the group, you can look up the leaders on Google and social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn so you’re up-to-date on their backgrounds and activities.  You can bring up the topic yourself during the first five minutes – “I looked you up online, you’ve had  quite a career” – or mention it when they start talking about something you recognize from your research.  Be sure to visit their company’s website.

If you already know the people you’re meeting with, use the first five minutes to make them feel valued.  If it is a superior,  acknowledge that the person is taking time out of his or her busy day.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  You could say, “Thanks for meeting with me. I know you are busy.”  Or you can be more specific, for example by asking about a project the person is working on.  Or you could be even bolder and aim to really make an impression.   This is the suggestion of Chris St. Hilaire.  To paraphrase his example:  Think  about the last time your superior complained about  something – babies crying on the  airplane or a restaurant which never puts enough mayo on a sandwich. When you go to meet with this person, bring a pair of inexpensive headphones or a jar of mayonnaise, set it on the desk, and say, “I’ve solved your problem.  Can I have a minute of your time?”  It is using a casual touch to signal that you listen to the other person and care enough to actually go out and  buy  the item.

During the first five minutes, you will also be making a visual impression.  Here are some tips to consider. Conventional wisdom is to match your style of dress to the people you’ll be meeting—this makes you one of them.   Another angle of view is that when you are selling a service, consider that you may not want to look exactly like the people you’re persuading.  If you are just like them, why do they need you?  They need a person who can contribute something new.  So consider dressing a little differently, to set yourself a little apart.  In this fashion, you are also signaling that you are not competing with them.   Then there is the old but true dictum of salesmanship that if you’re going to sell something valuable, you need to look affluent.  With all this in mind, you might go with casual dress and choose a classy pullover sweater and jeans, both of which are obviously expensive.

Lastly, a way to put people at ease is knowing that other people will notice and be curious about whatever you are carrying.  It is an icebreaker.

Think about how your behavior and dress can put people at ease. Your intention will then direct you in your choices!

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