This may come as a big surprise to some of you, but back in the 14th Century Croatia invented quarantine, when a merchant vessel from China entered a Croatian port during the Black Plague, and the sailers were refused entry to Croatian soil. This meant the Chinese crew remained on ship, as the story goes, for 40 days, until the Croatians were certain that no one on board would give them the Black Death. And so quarantine was born.
In full disclosure my background is Croatian. My extended family is Croatian. All my cousins are Croatian.
So this means this story will be read by my cousins in a few days time, and then, because Croatians know national pride like no other, this story will be forwarded a thousand times over, eventually landing on a local musicians desk. That musician will then write an epic Croatian folk-rock song with a beautiful woman in the background dancing near the ocean, with seagulls flying overhead. The lyrics will include how they were the first to invent quarantine, and will probably add something about how ridiculously beautiful Croatia is. If you haven't been, and you don't have COVID-19, then definitely go visit.
Now that this bombshell announcement is complete, a few sources for your reference for those in doubt on the Croatian quarantine claim:
I first learned of this by Dr Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D on a recent broadcast on the Joe Rogan Show podcast and more recently found a secondary source from UK's timeout magazine.
Back then, as mentioned, this was a great tactic to prevent the spread of germs and viruses, and was also likely an early 14th century approach to postponing a meeting that you just weren't ready for.
Because like the Black Plague, or COVID-19, meetings can be stressful and give us a lot of anxiety.
But unlike these viruses, meetings must go on.
And virtual tools now allow us to still meet even when there is a pandemic. Thank you virtual tools ...not.
Note: This photo below has nothing to do with meetings, but it is a beach in Croatia on the island of Brac
Remote Worker Meetings Can't Count on Quarantine Delays
Unfortunately today we can't throw our boss or team into quarantine because they're already in quarantine, thanks to social distancing.
And no thanks to video conferencing, living through a pandemic means the meetings must go on. So let's dive into a few top yet misunderstood tactics that will help ensure your meeting goes exceptionally well...
But, before we start, here's a little bit me, and why this is relevant before we continue.
For those of you who don't know me personally, one of my strongest skills is presenting, hosting and facilitating meetings in front of large audiences.
I'm not talking Obama inauguration or Ted Talks size, but the more normal 5-10, 20, or even 30-50 sized meetings.
These are the meetings, for those of us in the business world, which help companies coordinate, strategize, align, and resolve our business problems.
Now the important part...
TIP: You Can Host a Great Meeting, Even If You're Shy or Introverted
My facilitation skills took time to develop, which may not surprise you. But what many people don't know about me, is that as a child I was literally scared of everything. Yes everything: dogs, cats, people, conversations, plants, and probably lamps too. And until around the age of 9 or 10, I had a slight stutter.
I grew up shy and introverted.
But now today, my meeting skills are so strong that I come across as naturally extroverted, when it's needed. Over time I've developed my meeting skills and my self-confidence.
We won't get into all that here, but this is just to point out that if I can host a great meeting then you can too.
So how is it done?
The last twist in this story is this - Some of the most crucial yet under utilized tools and tactics in the Art of Hosting a Great Meeting and killing those nerves before they get started, actually has nothing to do with the meeting itself.
A few do tactics do, but most of them do not... so let's begin.
10 Under Utilized Tactics To Host a Great Meeting
This list is not what you'd normally expect for tips on hosting a great meeting, because being a great facilitator today, means doing things right the day before. Just like any athlete, you need the right habits and tactics in place long before the actual race.
1. Drink, Dinner, Sleep - Don't drink the night before you have a big meeting. And eat a healthy dinner too. No snacking after either. All of these things will impact the most important thing you can do before an important meeting, and that's get a great nights sleep. Remember: Your Superpower is Sleep
2. Breakfast and Lunch. Eating a healthy well balanced breakfast of protein, carbs, fats and not too much sugar is all part of having a great day. Some of you may be intermittent fasting, but I'd recommend against this on the days you have to be your best. Your body needs to be well nourished a few hours before a meeting if you want everything working optimally.
3. Avoid Coffee. If you're someone who feel anxiety throughout your workday already, coffee is not going to help. And it may cause the jitters before or during the meeting if you've had a cup or two or three.
4. Banana, Fruit or Chocolate. Right before the meeting, if it's long after you had breakfast or lunch eat a banana, or if not available, try berries if available. If neither of those are around, eat a small amount of chocolate. Do this approx 5-10 mins before your meeting to maintain healthy potassium and magnesium levels.
5. Fish and Omega 3's. For me personally, if I have a small amount of smoked or precooked salmon or other type of fish available I will eat it the day I'm hosting a big meeting. The Omega 3's in there make you sharp, alert and on point.
6. Internal Dialogue. Have a conversation with yourself. A nice one. One that kills the negative thoughts before they take hold. Visualize a successful meeting. Think about all the great aspects you see happening. Tell yourself you will do great for this meeting because you are great at your job, and you're great at what you do. The power of Internal Dialogue is crucial to being a great meeting host. Otherwise negative thoughts might rule you.
7. Prepare For Your Meeting In Advance. This means doing your homework, reading materials, contacting people and gathering your approach and presentation. If you have a 20-60 minute presentation in front of a big audience this could be mean 2-5 hours of prep time. You decide how much is enough.
8. Get Inside Your Audiences Head & Prep Meetings - If needed have a prep meeting before you're actual meeting. This is a great tactic especially when you might be entering hostile territory, as in, presenting to someone who may or may not have a beef with you or your team for one. reason or another. Think about the problems they may have with what you're presenting to them. Think what they might say or question so you're totally prepared.
9. The Rule of Three. What are the three things you hope to get from this meeting? If you are the meeting host, and you don't know the three reasons for the meeting, then the meeting may ramble on, or become ineffective, or worse, toxic and unproductive. The rule of three is all about knowing WHY you are having a meeting.
Examples of this could be:
a. Strategy and Scope - understanding and aligning a team on what the plan is for the day, week or month ahead.
b. Problem Solving and Workshops - Sessions where you focus on problems are known in the business world as workshops. These are session where participants are encouraged to present their problems and solutions to issues in creative and interactive ways that you help facilitate.
c. Relationship Building - New teams or old teams need strong relationships to be effective. This means building trust by getting to know each other. How do you build trust? More on that in a future article.
10. Meeting Agendas & Meeting Introductions. Before a meeting send a meeting invite that includes an actual agenda. Many people I've worked fail to send agendas. This is wrong. Even a short agenda is better than no agenda at all. Always have one. At the start of a meeting introduce the meeting by reviewing the agenda and the participants if they've never met before. This allows you to stay on task when a meeting is in progress.
Thanks for reading. For more on career advice, and top 10 lists to help move you forward where you work, visit our category pages.
- Goran Yerkovich
Until next time stay strong, stay healthy, stay motivated, and stay inspired.
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About the author - Goran Yerkovich is the founder of The-Inspired.com, an online magazine designed to help readers reach their personal goals. The-Inspired includes some of the best tools, tactics, and habits from the greatest minds of today and yesterday. Goran lives in the greater Vancouver area with his wife and two cats Kimchi and Kauai.