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7 Things the World Cup Teaches Us about Meetings

If you’re anything like us here at PGi, the World Cup is an absolute obsession. Football (or soccer for us Americans) is the globe’s most popular sport, and the World Cup is the pinnacle of that popularity. According to FIFA, over a billion people—nearly half of all people on the planet—tuned in to watch the 2010 World Cup final. Thanks to the timing of the games this year, workplace productivity (including my own) is likely to plummet as our nation’s team take the world stage. I’m pretty sure most of my British and French colleagues have taken very timely three-week vacations just to watch all the games.

With all this build-up worldwide, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Self, what if we spent as much time planning our work-life as they did the World Cup? What if that weekly team meeting was just as important as the World Cup final match?” Here are the seven things the World Cup teaches us about meetings.

1. Great events require serious planning—and political allies.
Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, after building allies within the FIFA governing body and giving a presentation showing their readiness—both politically and financially—to host the world’s biggest sporting event. At kick-off in June 2014, however, seven years was proven to be too little time for the Brazilian World Cup organizers. Several of the stadiums will not be ready for kick-off, according to reports.

For all meetings, from weekly team meetings to huge global events, building up a strong group of political supporters and a solid presentation is vital for getting the “yes.” Schedule enough time to allow your plans to come to fruition, so that at the time of the meeting, everything is ready for show time.

2. Don’t build something today that isn’t a foundation for tomorrow.
Twelve stadiums across Brazil will host matches, with six built specifically to host the World Cup, according to the BBC. But will the six additions become ghost stadiums after the event? Many fear they will, and the millions spent for their construction will be wasted.

We fall prey to this often in business, do we not? We see a meeting invite on our calendar, and we dutifully attend, often without even reading the body of the invite. Every one of those ghost meetings is lost productivity for ourselves and our businesses. Don’t schedule or attend a meeting that isn’t building a foundation for something productive in the future.

3. Stick to your budget.
I’m going to harp on the Brazilian planning team again. Last time, poor guys. The budget has been completely overrun, including the stadium in Braslia coming in at an estimated three times its original budget.

For meetings, cost is more than just dollars and cents, it’s time. One of my personal pet peeves are the traditional 30- and 60-minute meetings. Since when does anything last exactly 30 or 60 minutes? Instead of adding fluff and fillers or running way over, become the time czar of your meetings. Schedule meetings only for the necessary length of time (I’m a huge proponent of the 10-minute meeting). Don’t let the fluff in. And if you’re still talking when time is up, but on the brakes and schedule a follow-up.

4. Hype up the event by including your star players.
My favorite World Cup commercial thus far is Adidas’ “House Match” – watch it below. Why? Because it combines some of the biggest players (hello, David Beckham), playing the game and smashing up Becks’ house.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDUIuzIwwTU

Learn from all these awesome commercials. To get your fans on board and hype up your event/meeting/campaign, call on your star players to be your advocates. Whether it’s your CEO or everyone’s favorite sales rep, use them as your corporate hype men and woman.

5. Be ready for protests and naysayers.
Somebody, inevitably, always hates on an event, whether it’s the World Cup or a lunch and learn. Meeting organizers, presenters and leaders must prepare for objections and protests before the actual event itself. Create a list of everything that could possibly go wrong and any argument that can go up against yours. In PR, we call this a crisis plan, and I guarantee that both Brazil and FIFA have one in place. Make one for your campaign, program, presentation and meeting.

PGi Guy celebrates the World Cup from our office in Sao Paolo.

6. Only invite the best to participate.
The announcement of World Cup rosters were huge all around the globe. Here in the U.S., I boo-hoo’d when Landon Donovan wasn’t chosen to join the Yanks in Brazil. But like coach Jürgen Klinsmann made a tough call, so must we all be willing to pick and choose the right people who will advance our cause.

For meetings and strategy sessions, only invite people who can actively help you achieve your goal. If they can’t, why would you waste their time and yours? Put politics aside, and make the tough call. Just know that you will be on the hook for it.

7. Celebrate your wins and learn from your losses.
Like the World Cup, sometimes only one person wins and every other nation in the world loses. If you have a meeting or project that is an epic fail, know that if you’ve done your job right, your fans will still be with you. Take your lumps, assess the damage, learn from the loss and come back ready to make a run for the trophy the next time.

Share your World Cup fandom with us on Facebook! We’ll be sharing office pics from all over the world, as everyone shares their love of country and football.

About Blakely Thomas-Aguilar

Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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