From the time I was five years old, I loved to play the piano. As my skill grew in my teenage years, I became aware of many music genres: Classical, jazz, country, blues, folk, pop, rock, etc. I spent most of my time practicing Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy but dabbled in jazz, blues and pop, without becoming extremely knowledgeable about these styles. You might consider me a jack of all trades in music genres.
Jack of all trades is a figure of speech referring to a person who has many skills versus gaining expertise in only one. This term can be a compliment to a person when it comes to fixing things.
For instance, a carpenter who remodels homes needs to be a jack of all trades meaning he is skilled in the trades and understands how to bring many disciplines together for practical purposes. He can always hire a specialist for kitchen cupboards.
Another example is a decathlete who must excel in many track and field events.
An office manager is also a good example of a jack of all trades. Office managers handle many types of tasks versus the person who only does accounting or only handles travel arrangements for executives and staff.
When you are running a meeting, I recommend being a jack of all trades. These skills are necessary to run an efficient meeting:
1- Assertiveness. When you start a meeting, use an assertive and strong tone of voice in the lower registers of your voice. When the conversation is running off track and you need to bring it back, use the same voice. You can also use an assertive voice when you need to end a side conversation or put a conversation in a parking lot.
2- Verbal Skills. Excellent verbal skills and a good dose of charisma goes a long way when interacting with team members in a meeting. Smile, look them straight in the eye, be willing to engage in superficial chitchat or comments as needed, and laugh when appropriate. These actions build rapport and make team members feel safe to participate.
3- Listening Skills. Listen intently and pay attention to the point the person who is speaking is making, enabling you to make the person feel heard. After listening, refrain from making assumptions about what the person is conveying but ask clarifying questions, then summarize the content.
4- Intuition. Intuition is the ability to feel how the momentum changes in the group. Just like momentum changes in athletic events, moods, feelings, and opinions can quickly transform a meeting. On the way to building consensus, use intuition to key into and understand momentum swings.
5– Cognitive Ability. Meeting conversations can move swiftly into unchartered waters. The ability to think quickly, process where the discussion is going and what information is surfacing is a critical skill to guide the conversation and help the group make good decisions.
6– Delegation. A successful meeting needs to have assignments to individual team members clear. Don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for a follow-up conversation or set a deadline. Be sure to send an email with clarifying instructions for the individual’s review.
Normal humans may be strong in several of these skills but not all. You can improve weak skills by using emotional intelligence and practice. Team members will thank you for running meetings that are productive, move initiatives forward, and end on time.