The First 5 minutes

The First 5 Minutes

If you’re hosting a meeting or call, the first 5 minutes is where everyone arrives, gets comfortable together, and gets to work.

Your first impression as the host happens in the first 30-90 seconds. If you’re attending a meeting hosted by someone else, be sure to speak up in the first 5 minutes.

Here is a broad template for hosting any meeting or call. A smooth take-off means a smooth flight.

A good meeting is:

  • friendly
  • has a plan
  • moves forward
  • lasts less than 90 minutes
  • ends with a short list of tasks and accomplishments

Starting a meeting or call

1) Introductions

Say hello, introduce yourself and your role, and give a friendly greeting.

  • “Hi there!”
  • “My name is [full name].”
  • “I’m [expertise or professional role].”
  • “Nice to meet you.”

Using a confident voice and body language invites partnership. Also, former FBI kidnapping hostage negotiator Chris Voss includes terrific examples of the effect of both downward inflection and smiling.

On video, you are arriving from a great distance - a short wave hello is friendly and fun.

2) Small Talk

If you are hosting the call, let your guests lead the small talk. This is the “sniff dance” - you’re both still arriving and unconsciously settling in together, so play along. A way to show confidence here is to lean your back into the back of your chair with a friendly smile.

3) Get to business

If you are the host, you are the guide. It’s your responsibility to pace the call. At the natural beat, or about a minute, lead the meeting out of small-talk.

  • “So, [field of expertise]. How can I help you today.”

As you’ve changed the topic, your still listening and gathering context. The other person’s core goals will cluster into 2-3 groups. Active listening will help you both organize these thoughts.

  • “What challenges are you having?”
  • “Mmmmm, yes.”
  • “Tell me about that”
  • “What does that look like?”
  • “How would you like it to be?”

4) Around 5 minutes it’s time for a plan.

If you are the host, you are the guide, and every guide has a plan.

  • “So I hear a couple of general goals and themes here.
  • [list 2-3]
  • How about we start working on [first theme] for [time], then check in.
  • From there, we can work on [second theme] or whatever’s next.
  • How does that work for you.”

It’s not a question. If they knew where to start they would have started there. Plans evolve, but for that to happen, you have to be moving forward.

If they don’t agree, no problem. Ask why, and/or confidently roll with it. At this point we want to confidently move forward.

Solving problems at 5 minutes.

During the meeting

Work together for 60-90 minutes.

Longer than 90 minutes and one of you is likely to burn out. At this point there will likely be things that need to be done off-line anyways.

2) End early if the call isn’t happy.

Doesn’t matter why. If the call isn’t going to end happy, end it now. Thank them for your time, and if you’re ending the call, don’t charge them. Better to end a bad date at 15 minutes, than invest in 3 months of bad love.

Ending the call

1) Wrap up

“So, this feels like a good place to stop for now. Is there anything we missed?”

This is your opportunity to list accomplishments and action items. It’s also time to schedule any next interaction.

2) Hang up

Say goodbye and hang up.


Feel free to make this checklist your own.

The point is a good meeting is friendly, has a plan, moves forward, lasts less than 90 minutes, and ends with a list of tasks and accomplishments.

I hope you got something from this article. If you’re interested in more, check out our article on Confident Voice and Body Language article on our website. Welcome Series

This article is part of our Welcome Series. We help experts to get paid for their expertise.

Unlike marketplaces and job boards, we provide tools to engage new paying clients right from your website - without being part of a job board cattle call.

If people visiting your content want your help and you’d like to help them in a 1-1 video conference for money, bigSmall helps you connect, help, and get paid without chasing invoices.

  1. Getting Started
  2. Confident Voice and Body Language
  3. The First 5 Minutes
  4. Design The Experience
  5. Be Important, Urgent, and Credible
  6. Look Great in Any Video offers experts streamlined sales, marketing, invoicing and settlement processes keep them billable.

The Modern Freelancer features and curates content for more money, less work, and happier clients - both online and offline.

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