Have you ever looked forward to attending a meeting or conference in anticipation of everything you would get out of it? You meet new people, gain new insights and generate new ideas, leaving you inspired and excited? Then fast forward a month or two and reality has slowly started to set in and you can barely remember what those insights and ideas were. Have you had that happen to you? Sure, we all have. You’re not alone, in fact you’re in good company. There could be a number of reasons why those ideas didn’t stick or you weren’t able to execute on them. Perhaps you don’t have enough time to flesh them out or maybe you don’t have bandwidth on your team to take action on something new. Or perhaps you didn’t start with the end in mind.
The latter is what I want to focus on today. For years, we’ve encouraged our members to start any meeting or activity with the end in mind. We mean, identifying what you want to get out of the meeting before you arrive. And not something jotted down on the fly. We are talking about taking time to consider the agenda and how it can tie into your organizational goals. So before your next conference, meet with your team and layout your goals. Do you want to learn something specific? Do you want to meet certain people who have experience or success in a particular area? Do you want ideas on certain subjects? Do you want to gain resolution on a particular problem?
Next determine, how you will know that you’ve accomplished your goals. It is important to quantify as much as you can. For example, a goal might be to gain no less than three new revenue generating ideas before you depart. Or meet three people who are successful in an area that you want to grow or improve in your practice.
Prior to our Spring Summit this year, we urged our Member firms to meet with their teams before the 5-day event to outline specifically what they wanted to gain from their attendance.
To support them in that effort and to get them into action while they were at our event, we created daily activity sheets with five or six daily activities that had them interacting with people they didn’t know and taking action on the ideas that were being bounced around. Some sample activities included “Find a person you haven’t met before and share something new you learned so far,” and “Identify 1 Action Item you can complete now (schedule meeting, block time on your calendar, send an email) and do it now!”
We also created idea sheets to encourage attendees to jot down great ideas they heard as well as identify who on their team would be best to lead that effort back at the office and think about the meetings or steps that would need to take place with deadlines to keep the ideas moving forward to the execution phase. Most ideas require many steps so the idea sheets helped prompt attendees to think about the meetings and activities that would need to happen to implement their top ideas when they got home.
It was exciting to see more than 90% of the 200 plus attendees raise their hands the first day of the Summit to share that they had a clear plan on what they planned to get out of the Summit.
So before your next meeting or conference, start with your ideal end in mind. Create intentional goals with your team, then bring back those items or ideas to your team to get the ball rolling.
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555