Party of One: Making the Most of Your One-on-One Meeting

This past week, I received an email inquiring,

What are some best practices for presenting to an audience of one? How do you communicate to the person in front of you that he or she has your undivided attention without smothering them?”

Given that the majority of us run our lives in a one-on-one kind of way, I thought I’d send you along the same advice I gave the gentleman who wrote.

1. Thank them for their time. While most of us aren’t that busy, we all like to think that we are. Acknowledging that makes people feel better.

2. Sit up and forward in your chair. I don’t want you to perch on the edge as if you are longing to be picked, or about to lunge across the desk, but keeping the small of your back off the back of the chair ‘reads’ as being engaged and interested.

3. Have an active ‘listening face’. At this point, most us know about RBF: Resting B*tch Face. (If you don’t, Google it) and whether or not you like the name, the phenomenon is real. The antidote? Before an important meeting relax the muscles of your face with the pumpkin/raisin face exercise. Step one: Make your face as big as a Jack o’ Lantern; open your eyes and mouth as wide as you possibly can. Step two: make your face as small as a raisin; scrunch your face up as tightly as you possibly can. Repeat.

4. Keep both your feet flat on the floor. Crossing your legs is like crossing your arms—it ‘reads’ as shielded.

5. Take notes. One of the fastest and easiest ways to build camaraderie is to write down what people tell you. It makes others feel important and reassures them you are going to remember what is said (If you don’t believe me consider how you felt the last time your waiter didn’t write down your order.)

6. Actively demonstrate appreciation for their contribution. Close the meeting with something along the lines of, “I appreciate your insight.” Or “I value your opinions—thank you.”

While you are likely doing one or more of the above, it’s the aggregate of all six that will make your meeting a party.