It’s Monday which means it’s a new week filled with paperwork, meetings, and stress. Meetings can be some people’s worst nightmare and rightfully so. They are often long, boring, and get nothing accomplished. Plus, if you don’t know anyone there it can be a little overwhelming and down right anxiety inducing depending on the situation.
I, on the other hand, love a good meeting where there is active discussion and real plans are made. Even though those might be few and far between, even the worst ones can be useful in making sure people know who you are and what you’re all about. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to stand out among the crowd though. This is especially true if you’re meeting with new folks that have no idea who you are, what you do, or what your name even is. However, there are ways to make sure you can hold your own in any meeting you attend. Once you can do that, the stress of another new gathering won’t seem so bad anymore.
- Come prepared: Nothing is worse than going to a meeting and having no idea what’s going on. I’ve been to a few of those and it makes it very difficult to participate in the conversation. Instead, I sit there and smile, take notes, and nod my head in agreement. I end up looking more like the secretary and less like an active member of the group. Make sure you are prepared to openly discuss the issues at hand.
- Sit at the table: I mean this quite literally. Take your cute little butt and sit at the fricken table. Don’t mosey over to those chairs along the wall, placing you on the sideline of the conversation. If you really want to be heard, sit elbow to elbow with your colleagues. Well, almost elbow to elbow. Personal space is very important to people! 🙂
- Speak up, but don’t be rude: You physically got to the meeting and sat at the table which is step one to being seen and heard. Step two is actually speaking up. To hold your own, you need to actively participate in the conversation. You can ask questions or answer them if you know what you’re talking about. Use a strong, steady voice and express your opinions, facts, and comments in a clear and concise manner. Just make sure you’re not being rude and speaking over top of others or putting people’s thoughts down. You want everyone to remember you for your good ideas, not as the person who doesn’t know meeting and conversation etiquette (and trust me, there’s at least one of these people in every meeting).
- Don’t fidget or slouch: Make sure to sit up tall and keep your feet (and hands) as still as possible. Even if the meeting is completely boring, try not to lean over too much or lose your focus. You probably don’t want to fall asleep either (this has actually happened in a meeting I was in once). Your posture and behavior can be hints of confidence, doubt, or even boredom. Strive to look as engaged and self-assured as possible.
- Put your cell phone away: Unless it’s your work phone and you’re expecting a very important call, put your cell phone away. It’s rude and unprofessional to be checking your phone, text messaging friends, or playing candy crush while your colleagues are discussing important issues. Even if you think you’re doing it nonchalantly by hiding it on your lap, you’re not. You’re being a distraction and it detracts from your ability to actively participate in a meaningful way.
- Look over the agenda ahead of time and possibly make suggestions for additions: Oftentimes you receive the agenda in advance of the actual meeting. If you don’t feel like you have anything to talk about based on what’s currently up for discussion, suggest an additional, relevant topic is added. This ensures that you’ll be seen and heard in the meeting. Plus, you’ll have a topic you’re concerned about openly discussed which can only assist you.
Now it’s your turn. How do you make sure you’re heard and seen in meetings?