Team Building: Nine Ways Johnny
Carson Can Help You Run Outstanding Meetings and Better Team Building
By Ed Sykes © 2005 all Rights Reserved
Recently, America lost one of the giants of late night television, Johnny
Carson. He was a master at his craft, because he would conduct his show,
essentially like a ninety minute meeting. The program would be entertaining,
insightful, informative, and leave you wanting more.
times we fear going to meetings or briefings because we feel, based on past experiences, that
they are going to be boring, not relevant, lack information, and we can’t wait
until the meeting ends.
are my eight techniques used by Johnny Carson to make your meetings or briefings outstanding
for all involved:
Do Your Research for Better Team Building
Carson would invest time before each show to find out information on what was
important to his guests and audience members. He would find out about his
guests’ personalities, their interests, and concerns.
not do the same? E-mail the participants with your agenda before the meeting.
Ask them for feedback or any concerns they may have concerning the meeting.
This allows you address any concerns before the meeting and to think through any
potential problems and come up with better answers for solutions during the
Plan the Meeting for Better Team Building
the details for your meeting. Set an agenda with points to be covered and the
time period for which they will be covered.
Invite Only the
“Guests” That Can Contribute for Better Team Building
Johnny was finished speaking with one guest, then it was time to bring out his
next guest and engage in conversation with that guest. When he finished
speaking with his guests he would excuse them so they could leave.
only the “guests” that are relevant to subject matter at hand. How many times
have you wondered, “Why am I here, this meeting doesn’t pertain to me?” Also
once your “guest” has contributed to the meeting and there is nothing else in
the meeting that pertains to them, excuse them so they can leave.
Keep on Time for Better Team Building
knew every night the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson would start at its assigned
time (unless there was a special event).
Starting you meeting on time shows respect for the participants who made the
effort to show up on time, and let’s the late comers know that this behavior is
designate one person to be the time keeper. They are responsible for keeping
you on track to stay within the time limits for each subject covered in the
meeting. The results are that you start on time and end on time while
accomplishing your meeting agenda.
Set the Tone for Better Team Building
would stand up and greet each guest with an engaging smile and welcome. Do the
same with your meeting participants. Put them at ease for more informational
meetings. Let them know that you really appreciate their feedback and
Engage the Participants for Better Team Building
would continue the flow of the conversation with his guests by asking follow-up
questions or summarize what they said.
additional questions to draw out important information with your meeting
participants. Say the following:
me more about…
an interesting viewpoint, please explain further…
understand what you are saying…
there are participants that are quiet, make it safe for them to give feedback or
suggestions. Say the following:
we would really like to hear your ideas on…
you look like you really want to add something important to the discussion,
please tell us.”
they make their comments say, “Thanks for your valuable comments. I look
forward to you contributing more insights in the future.”
Make the Meeting Participants the Stars for Better Team Building
Johnny Carson had a way of letting his guests, whether they were infamous or
famous, be celebrities on the Tonight Show. He allowed them to tell their jokes
and witty stories, as well as complimented them, so that the stars were and
ultimately the show was successful.
can do the same for your staff in meetings. You could dominate the meeting and
develop all the ideas yourself. You wouldn’t accomplish much because the
meeting participants would have no sense of ownership and would be slow to
initiate your ideas. Or you can encourage the participants to contribute ideas
so that they take ownership of the ideas and take responsibility for
implementing their ideas. Also, acknowledge and reward these “solution
creators” in front of the group.
End the Meeting the Right Way for Better Team Building
excusing his guests, Johnny would sincerely thank them for coming on the show
and compliment them on their contributions. The guests left with a good feeling
and always wanted to come back again and again.
sure you thank the meeting participants for their time and contributions. Let
them know how they made a difference in the meeting. If there were solutions
created in the meeting, communicate what is the clear course of action to
accomplishing those solutions. Express your confidence that you know that these
solutions will be achieved.
Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up for Better Team Building
Carson would talk about how great a show was because of a guest. This was
another way to make the guests on his show feel special.
an e-mail to all relevant employees, whether they were in the meeting or not,
explaining what was covered in the meeting, what was decided on in the meeting,
and what course of action we are taking.
again, acknowledge key people in the meeting for their contributions.
Your meeting should be a place of information,
empowerment, and motivation. Follow these nine techniques used by the
master of late night and your meeting or briefing will be outstanding.
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