AI Inspired Storytelling

By Raymond Smith

Get Good At Meetings

This is installment three in my series of things I’ve learned – and would love to share – in my 25 years in advertising. The first was ‘be kind’. The second, ‘persist’.

The third thing: first get comfortable and then get really good at meetings and presentations. People who take an active role in a meeting, who can present and defend their ideas, and who can sell an ad campaign will have a long and lucrative career. People who can’t, won’t. Getting up there in front of people and doing your thing is the difference between playing guitar in your bedroom and playing in front of 10,000 screaming fans.

But you’re new, so start by quietly observing. Watch for the people who command the room and figure out what it is they’re doing so well. It’s probably going to boil down to three things: confidence, presence, and command of their material.

Let’s deal with the last one first. Command of your material; do you know what this meeting is about? Are you prepared for it? Do you know what your role is at the table? People who truly ‘run’ meetings have such a command of their material that they probably don’t even need notes. They know what they’re in the room to do, they know what their goals are, and they know how to achieve them.

That leads directly into confidence. If you know your material, you’ll have the confidence to speak, to have an opinion, to be a little stubborn or forceful or persuasive as required. And don’t forget, your voice is valid from day one. Of course, the more senior people in the room will inevitably do much of the talking. But you’re not being paid to spectate, so engage with thoughtful comments whenever you feel it’s appropriate. Lean in…speak up.

Finally, presence. Advertising has a lot of big personalities. Loud, friendly, gregarious and talkative. But some of the quietest people in the room have the greatest presence, because they don’t say much…but they say it thoughtfully, insightfully and sparingly. Be sure you always have something to say which adds value to the conversation and you’ll be a welcome addition to every meeting.

 Speaking confidently and comfortably in front of a room – or a Zoom – full of people takes time and practice, but it’s a skill you should try to master as early in your career as you can.