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Flash point

According to a Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly study, every single day the average restaurateur has fifty-eight unscheduled, informal meetings. These are in addition to two or three daily formally scheduled meetings.

{mosimage} According to a Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Administration Quarterly study, every single day the average restaurateur has fifty-eight unscheduled, informal meetings. And these are in addition to two or three daily formally scheduled meetings.

These interruptions are constant, adding to the challenge of an already overwhelming day of multi-tasking. It reminds me of the plate-spinning entertainer, managing a long line of spinning plates on poles...a constant mad dash up and down the line, stopping long enough only to re-spin the plates. Catch my drift?

We all want — and desperately need — accountability for results. In the typical crazy-busy times like these, a manager must focus not only on the communication of key thoughts, ideas and directions, but also in ensuring that their team understands exactly what is being said, and is clear on how to act on that information. And this can be a challenge, since it's well-known that only about 7% of communications are truly heard.

A fun and powerful way to achieve a higher level of understanding and retention, at least in your scheduled meetings, is the flash test. It is a simple and logical technique that gets results 100% of the time. As you build your five-to-ten point meeting agenda, simultaneously develop a test question for each topic covered. As the meeting comes to a close, ask the group if they have any questions about the information covered. If there are none (which is usually the case), say "Ok, then let's make sure we've gotten it all with a quick flash test."

Hand all attendees a piece of paper and pencil, and read them the questions developed beforehand. Then call on team members to read their answers aloud. In a flash, the blank stares, uncomfortable silences, and wacky guesses will convert to a realization that you're serious, and that you expect listening and remembering. It takes only once. Now that the team knows they will be held accountable for the material, they'll pay closer attention next time around. After all, no one wants to look bad in front of the boss or (especially) their friends.

Download a sample meeting agenda linked to flash test questions, then read "This Meeting Is Called to Order" for more pointers on conducting effective meetings and a blank meeting agenda .

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