Oh, yeah! Let’s get this column started
Button up your power suits because I’m about to rock your world: ”We’re going to give this meeting a start, yeah!”
Did you just feel a shiver? A surge? A rush of persuasiveness?
Nope, me either. I guess we’re just not cut out to be the dynamos at business meetings.
The University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied 95 words commonly used in meetings. The best to work into your presentation to incited good cheer are ”give,” ”start,” ”meeting” and – the biggie – ”yeah.”
It worked for the Beatles. In one of their first hits, they sang, ”She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” It wasn’t the work of the Fab Four, it was the genius of the Big Business Beatles. And you were sold.
Remember how well-meaning adults nagged you to talk more grown up? ”No one’s going to respect you in the business world if you keep saying, ‘Um, like yeah, man’ instead of ‘yes sir.”’
Dude, they were far out, er, far off the mark.
Starting a suggestion with the word ”yeah” indicates agreement with a previous statement, making your idea more likely to be heard as a positive, the researchers said.
”Start” and ”give” help build alliances. It’s the fourth word on the list of power words that gives me fits – ”meeting.”
Most business types I know cringe at the word. The great philosopher Dave Barry once observed, ”If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”’
If you want to scare a business person, don’t plop a pumpkin on your head and ride a black horse at midnight. Unless he’s Ichabod Crane, your best bet is to jump out of the bushes and scream, ”Meeting!”
It would be best to have a defibrillator in the bushes with you.
According to the researchers, ”meeting” is well received because it often means putting something off and moving things ahead, as in, ”Let’s save that for another meeting and start the next topic.”
To me, it’s still scary. It guarantees that there will be another meeting. I would have consigned the word to the bottom of the list.
Actually, according to the gang at MIT, the most negative words to use at a meeting are ”animal,” ”flat” and ”bottom.”
OK, I get how business types can tremble at ”flat” and ”bottom” when discussing profits and such. But ”animal?”
Another unsuccessful word is ”speech.” That’s frightening, whether you are the one who has to give it or part of the restless audience that has endure it.
Maybe it also explains ”animal” – ”Dave, if I end up flat on my bottom bored to tears by another one of your speeches, I’ll feed you to the animals.”
According to the MIT study, more than 11 million business meetings take place across the country on any given work day. Managers spend as much as three-fourths of their time in meetings.
Come to think of it, maybe being fed to animals isn’t sounding so bad.
”Fair” also is a negative word, but the report I read doesn’t explain if that’s because businesses don’t want to be be fair, of they hate to hear that the bottom line is fair to middlin’. A fair does have a lot of animals.
Yeah, you know what, I’ll give you a chance to start that discussion in our next meeting.
—- Start a meeting with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.