Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Excuses! >> I only had five minutes to talk to whomever [COMMUNICATIONS]

Christoph Trappe

September 29, 2017


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Continuing my occasional series in communications excuses that I would love to eliminate….

This scenario may sound familiar:

You have something that needs to be handled, discussed, decided on by somebody other than you. So you bring that to the right person’s attention. Could be your boss, your boss’s boss, etc. Maybe your spouse!

This item – whatever it might be – is highly important to you, maybe more important than it is to them. They promise to discuss it, or try to – though you likely didn’t hear the try.

Then the meeting happens and you follow up and their response: “I only had five minutes to talk to them and we didn’t get to this.”

Possible translations:

  • I forgot
  • It wasn’t that important to me (could be subconsciously)
  • I prioritized other things
  • They turned me down and I don’t want to tell you

Of course some of these are valid reasons. I forget things, too. Then I follow up with: “Sorry. I’ll do it right now.”

I also have to prioritize things and communications from time to time and can’t get to everything in the time I’d like to get to them. It’s a reality. I hardly ever will not tell somebody something that needs to be told. 🙂 It’s the German in me!

But really, you can get a lot done in 5 minutes or other short time periods. I’ve interviewed people on death row in under 15 minutes, I’ve won deal in 2 minutes or lost them in 1.

Following up for leaders is ever more important. It builds trust with team members and shows that you care. This scenario may sound familiar too:

You send a request through management and it goes into this black hole of never hearing back. No follow up at all. Neither good nor bad.

Dear leaders, if this is you, this can actually cost you employees. Not something we can then blame on younger generations job hopping or whatever!

So here’s what I would recommend to get the most out of our five minutes – or whatever time period:

  • Really think about what needs to be discussed.
  • What’s the impact on others when certain things aren’t resolved?
  • Cut to the chase!
  • Go over and agenda first quickly and prioritize together

Especially the last one can be helpful when both sides bring their own priorities. I’ve been in meetings before where an agenda item unexpected to one party took over the whole meeting.

Communication can be quick and certainly it depends on our priorities. But having just five minutes isn’t the reason something wasn’t done. The priorities or agenda were usually the reason. Those of course are valid reasons, but I would encourage all of us communicators to think about the impact.

We can make the time for the communications that must happen. There’s never enough time for anything – really. Let’s make it!

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Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I’m Christoph Trappe.

I’ve written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs.

If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I’m always happy to chat!

Thanks for reading!

– Christoph

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