Making the most of your meeting

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When we were in high school, special events, assemblies and meetings seemed like an exciting time of the day – or at least an excuse to break out of a boring class for a while!

But meetings at work often get a mixed reaction. If you’re busy, the last thing you want to do is take time away from work to debate an issue or watch a presentation.

However, meetings can be an important part of company communication, and workers should maximize their meetings to have the most beneficial experience.

Here are 10 ways you can make the most of your next meeting.

BE PREPARED
If you receive an agenda or support material beforehand, read it. Or, contact the leader of the meeting and ask for some background info. Figure out what you’ll be able to bring to the table in a discussion.

SHOW UP ON TIME 
Whether you’re in a meeting with two people or 200, get there on time. Being late will damage your image and show your disrespect for others’ time. Don’t expect others to review what you missed if you are late.

DON’T MONOPOLIZE THE MEETING….
Don’t talk just to talk – plan to speak when you have something useful to say. If you’re asked to say something, be conscious of how much floor time you’re taking to make a point. Be blunt, be brief and be done.

….but do PARTICIPATE
Refusing to participate will earn you a label you don’t want: Either as someone who lacks creativity or who can’t get things done; or your colleagues might get the vibe that you think you’re too good to offer your input. Engage in conversations, even if it’s only to share one suggestion. Otherwise, don’t bother showing up.

WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
Sleeping, sighing, slouching in your chair, hair tossing/touching/smoothing, spinning in your chair, leaving the room, eating loudly and making rude gestures or facial expressions are all distracting, rude and disrespectful behaviors in a meeting.

AVOID SIDE CONVERSATIONS
Having a side conversation is possibly the rudest thing you can do in a meeting.  Even if you’re discussing the topic at hand, save sidebar conversations for after the meeting.

DEBATE, DON’T DISMISS
Disagreements are fine – as long as they’re appropriate. Don’t make others (i.e., the boss or your co-worker) look bad. Don’t contradict them, expose their mistakes in a condescending way or ignore their points altogether. If you have something to debate, do it in private and don’t waste everyone’s time.

PUT YOUR CELL PHONE TO SLEEP
Cell phones shouldn’t even enter the boardroom, but if they do, turn them to vibrate mode. Interrupting meeting progress with your calls is distasteful and disrespectful. If you’re expecting an obligatory phone call, either skip the meeting or let everyone in the room know in advance the call might happen and excuse yourself quietly when (and if) it does.

CHEWING GUM – A SERIOUS NO-NO                                                                                   The smack, crackle and pop of your gum are annoying, not to mention rude and unprofessional. Get rid of it.

TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM THE MEETING 
Forgetting what you heard in the meeting is counter-productive. Hold onto support materials, and if you still have questions or concerns, contact the leader.

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