Everybody loves a juggler! The precise and skillful way in which they can keep all those balls in the air, without even appearing to break sweat; it can be mesmerising to watch.

In many ways, practice managers, are the jugglers of the dental profession, moving from task to task, dealing with each individual issue, focused and dedicated to resolving every challenge, without ever dropping a single ball.

Top class communication skills are crucial in order to maximise results from team meetings and encourage your team come up with ideas to take your practice to the next level. Here are five easy steps to make your meetings more productive.

You may be the most talented leader in your field, with a range of skills that set you apart from the rest but if you can’t communicate effectively with your staff; those gifts won’t seem that special.

Too often, what you intended to say is very different to what you actually did and what was originally an inspirational solution to an awkward problem, can quickly leave others more confused and underwhelmed than they were before you started.

There are many who believe that effective communication can’t be learned and that only those with the so-called “gift of the gab” can articulate effectively – it’s simply not true!

Like many things in life, communication can be a skill that can not only learned, but improved and polished, to such a degree that even the most shy and introvert individuals can become excellent orators.

The starting point for improved communication is structure. Without a definitive structure, the consistency of your message will almost certainly be lost. And in terms of communication, there is a very simple formula.

Like any story you’ve ever heard or told, there has to be a beginning, middle and an ending! Yes, it’s really that simple!

From babies in the cot we are programmed to expect structure. From “once upon a time” at the beginning to “happily ever after” at the end, we know when a story is starting and equally once it has concluded.

The rules are exactly the same in the workplace. All communiqués need to have a powerful impactful opening, a clear and unambiguous middle and a concise and clear ending.

Top class communication skills are crucial in order to maximise results from team meetings, so here are five easy steps to make your meetings more productive;

Step One – Why are we here?

Too often, practice managers lose their audience from the very start with a woolly, imprecise opening, full of “thanks for attending”, “I know a lot of you have been” and “I know you’re really busy but…”.

Forget the waffle and simply get on with it! Let them know why they are there and equally importantly, why they need to listen to what you have to say.  It will make a huge difference.

By beginning with “we are so busy, that we need to extend our working hours” or “this autumn we we’ll be introducing an incentive scheme”, you’ve a guarantee that those who this will affect, are certain to be hanging on your every word.

It’s always worth bearing in mind that in most cases ahead of a significant announcement, an invite will have been issued in the form of a text or an email, telling staff to gather at a certain time.

With the workplace being a hive of gossip and exaggeration, speculation will have followed this invitation as to what the meeting could be about and how significant it might be. This will invariably lead to inaccurate guesswork and unnecessary anxiety.

By beginning your meeting with an exact description of what’s on the agenda, you will have immediately brought that speculation to an end.

Step Two – Communicate the Facts

After establishing this impactful opening, it’s then time to impart the detail of your communication. Use a smattering of interesting facts and figures, point to relevant evidence, but all the time making sure you sacrifice the waffle in favour of precision. For example if you want to extend the working hours of the Practice share the figures with the team, maybe you have been marketing within the practice and the campaigns have been working really well, and you are struggling getting the new patients into the diary.

Try wherever possible to answer any potential questions in advance of them being asked. Put yourself in their shoes; if there’s something new or different, clarify those differences to your staff and be precise about how it will affect them, either directly or indirectly.

Step Three – Get their buy in

Unless you get buy in from the team, you will always find it challenging to make any necessary changes to the Practice. Getting the buy in from the team is going to be essential. So ask the team for their input by asking them the best way of getting these new patients into diary? The best way to do this is to split your team into small groups and ask them to discuss it amongst themselves. By doing it this way, even the shy members will be talking, it is non-threatening.

Step Four – Record your team’s ideas

A discussion time is now over, and then ask each team for their ideas. Record what each group comes up on a flip chart if you have one, that way no one is in any doubt what has been communicated. Now you have your team’s ideas and input and from there you can decide on the best way of moving forward. Once you have these ideas, then discuss what they feel are the best ideas and most practical.

Step Five – Conclude the Meeting

The substance of the presentation now over, it’s time to finish it off with a very powerful ending. And the key to a powerful ending is to make it as short as possible.

Your ending should always be a concise summary of what’s being proposed and in truth shouldn’t be very different to how you began.

For example, if you began with “we’re introducing Saturday opening” you could conclude with “So as of December 3rd we are introducing Saturday opening, staffed utilising a rota system, which will ensure everyone will have at least three weekends off a month.”

The key to an excellent ending is that those who’ve been addressed will be left in no doubt about what’s been introduced nor will they be in any doubt what is now happening.

Too often managers become so incoherent and imprecise in their conclusion, that their message has become diluted and in some cases even inconsistent, leaving staff with many more questions than answers!

Good communication can often be judged by the amount of confusion which follows it – in other words the number of relevant questions it subsequently provokes.

So the key to excellent communication is structure. And a manager who works on the principles of structuring their presentations and meetings will rapidly become an excellent communicator.

Ashley Latter and Alistair Mann deliver a One day Practice Managers Leadership and Coaching Programme all over the UK. This is a programme for forward thinking Practice Managers who want to develop world class communication, coaching and delegation skills.

For details of this unique programme, please visit or Call Lissa on 0161 724 8728.

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