On With The Show: What are your pre-meeting rituals that help you show up as a motivating leader?

By Linda Bodnar, Ph.D., PCC

My husband and I were at a restaurant last weekend (Ella’s, in Westerly, RI – I would highly recommend it!) run by a husband and wife team. The wife is the chef; the husband is the host who seated us. During the meal, the chef came around to the table to ask how we were enjoying our meals. She was “on,” coming across as enthusiastic about the food and sincere about her question. My mind started off on one of its meandering paths:

•  How she can show this enthusiasm night after night?

•  My mind then shifted to band members who have to put on a show night after night, playing the same music over and over, since that’s what the audience wants to hear – how do they do that?

•  And Broadway performers — how do they get themselves geared up for their shows each night?

And then of course, because I am an executive coach and can’t turn off my leadership development-focused brain ?, I thought about how strong leaders realize that they are “on stage” at every team meeting they hold. The team is looking to them for motivation, engagement, reassurance, development…the list goes on and on.

Often, leaders go into meetings “cold.” Even if they do go in with an agenda and goal of what they hope to accomplish, is that enough? I would suggest that leaders could benefit from coming up with a pre-show ritual similar to those used by Broadway performers, that allows them to be “on” as they engage with their team.

You might be thinking: “I don’t have time for that. I’m running from meeting to meeting and am lucky if I have even thought about what I want to say.” I venture to say that you can find some “pre-show rituals” that take only a minute or two, which you can even do as you are walking to the meeting or dialing into the conference call.

What might some of those rituals look like? Here are some that Broadway performers use:

1. Chill out and breath. Breathe deeply for 1 minute. Even a few deep breaths can help!

2. Me time. Take a minute to connect yourself to what matters and what doesn’t, reduce the clutter in your head, anchor yourself to an intention, be present.

3. Jump up and down. Or hold a “wonder woman pose” (check out this video on the pose!) for 2 minutes, to increase testosterone and reduce cortisol.

4. Don’t cut it close. For example, arrive 2 minutes early to acclimate yourself to being there in that meeting room, or call in 2 minutes early so you aren’t scrambling to enter the conference code number.

5. Listen to music. Find a song that pumps you up or focuses you and listen to it (or a few bars of it) before heading into the meeting.

6. Eat well. Eat a good breakfast or lunch or grab a healthy snack sometime before your meeting.

7. Stick to a routine. For example, fill up your water bottle, open your portfolio, write down the date, and write an “O” in the top right corner of your notes page to remind yourself to be “on,”

8. Find a mantra. This can be a simple “ooh” or “ahh” sound, a saying that motivates you, a quote from your favorite movie, etc.

9. Find a good luck charm. One leader I coached put a special feather in the portfolio she would bring to the meeting. Another leader put a meaningful poster on the wall next to his doorway that he would see as he walked out the door to head to meetings.

10. Take a moment of gratitude. Reflect on what you are grateful for.

11. Remember what you came for. Reflect briefly on why you lead this team, why you care about the team, the legacy you want to leave, etc.

What might you adopt for your pre-meeting ritual?


To consult with Linda about working together on your own pre-meeting ritual, contact her today.