Here’s a cardinal rule for every meeting in your life where you anticipate meaningful, two-way dialogue. Always (always) phrase the intention of the meeting as a QUESTION, never (ever) as a STATEMENT. This rule is immutable.

Look at these pairings, and see which one engages you:

A)  Strategic Planning

  1. 2015 Strategic Planning Session
  2. What do we need to do to reach our key strategic goals by 2015?

B)  New Product Development

  1. Development workshop: Widget 14K-7
  2. What do we need to do to build the best widget for our clients?

Most people are inspired to thought by the call to action inherent in option 2. in each case above. And the framing, “What do we need to do to…” inspires personal ownership and a call to action, both towards a definite, beneficial result.

By its very nature, a statement is complete – even disinterested. It ends with a period. It’s done. A fact. Period. It doesn’t need your help. Or your input. You can leave now. The statement doesn’t need you. It’s done. I’ve sat through meetings like that. They aren’t fun.

But what if we phrased it differently? How would you react if, instead of telling you what we will be doing, we asked you what you thought we needed to do? Would a question engage you differently? Would it be open to your input? Your insights? Would you see that intention as framing a day, an event, where you might want to contribute meaningfully?