Recently, my hubby and I were being considered for a reality show (because we’re freaking adorable together). The producers called us in for a meeting. Having been in Hollywood for several years, we knew better than to go in with overly optimistic expectations. In my experience, seventy to eighty percent of “meetings” are a lot of hot air, big dreams and no action or more importantly, funding, behind them. But, we figured, “Why not?” We gave it a shot.
As we sat across the table from producers, the meeting quickly turned into a scene from its own reality show. While one producer was totally into it, asking us questions, describing the project, creating conversation, his partner could not have been more tuned out, and tuned into his phone! (Rude.) After thirty minutes of bouncing ideas, our normally upbeat selves realized it was going nowhere. Every idea we passed back ended up trapped in inertia…probably somewhere in the ether of the guy’s phone. The sad reek of seeming desperate started to permeate the air. We quickly wrapped it up, thanked them for their time, and while in the elevator asked ourselves, “Why did it take so long to get out of there?” We realized we didn’t value our time enough because we weren’t clear on our intentions for the meeting.
There’s so many meeting “etiquette rules” that we can and should follow. Show up on time. Be polite. Say you please’s, thank you’s, and excuse me’s. Etiquette doesn’t mean jack-didly-squat when you don’t value your own time. Here’s five ways to hone your power and your worth in a general meeting…and how to decide if it’s even worth your time.
- Be Clear on Your Intentions
What’s the purpose of the meeting with this person or group? Is it to pitch a project? Get feedback on your own project? Connect with another human being in your industry? Learn from a person with greater experience in your field? Research a field like directing, that you want to attempt? When you know WHY, you respect not only your own time, but theirs as well. Intention creates aim, purpose, direction.
- Go Into Meetings with No Expectations
Just like a first date, in a meeting things can go really well, or they may not go anywhere. Setting an intention and having an expectation are two totally different things. Intentions are like the rudder on a ship, they direct you where to go. Expectation is a belief centered on the future that, by definition, may or may not be realistic. Expectations remove you from the present moment and set you up for disappointment. When I sat at lunch back in 2009 with my friend, Nick, I didn’t know that meeting would turn into him hiring me to co-write my first feature. I went in with the intention to connect and give feedback on his project. I never expected to be hired for a job! That was the cherry. You never know where a meeting will go. And if it’s going nowhere…
- Cut It Off.
But, do so politely. If you’re not jiving with the project or the person(s), kindly end the meeting and thank them for their time. However, don’t burn your bridges and end it like a diva. The next project they reach out to you about may be just what you’re looking for! Be cool. Your time is just as valuable as theirs. Know your worth and value theirs.
- No Phone-y Business
You’re not a Kardashian. Don’t put your phone on the table or even have it out. Keep your phone in your purse or pocket…and on silent! If, and only if, you have a dire emergency or are expecting an important call, apologize in advance at the beginning of the meeting, and inform the person with whom you’re meeting about the possibility of an interruption. People will remember if you’re rude.
- You are in Charge of Your Own Time
Time is valuable. You can never get time back. Make sure you are making the most of your time by understanding what invigorates you. If a project isn’t sparking a “Hell, yes!” passion in you, consider why you want to take the time to meet about it. Is it really worth your time when you factor in driving, parking, paying, meeting, more driving, and possibly getting stuck in traffic?
Best ask yourself this, “If this meeting required me to be stuck in rush hour traffic on the 405 on a Friday, is it so deeply, aligned with my passions and intentions that I would still want to do it?” If it’s not, go work on your passion project, your masterpiece, your piéce de resistance, and save the meeting for later.
The next time someone invites you to a meeting, think of what Pulitzer prize-winning America humorist Dave Barry said, “Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate.”
If your meetings aren’t producing intention-aligned results that enhance your worth, invigorate you, and further your passions, reevaluate your WHY.