Meetings get a bum wrap, as most people attend with a shrug of the shoulders anticipating a big yawn and wasted time. As long as I can remember being a part of the business world, I’ve been listening to people complain about meetings. Yet we still have them every week and that is not likely to change.
The nature of my business recently has required that I attend more meetings than usual the past several weeks. Being a people watcher, I tend to be extremely alert and aware of what is going on around me. Therefore, as I’ve sat around large executive tables with others, I’ve been listening and learning. Perhaps meetings are more important that we tend to think.
How to attend meetings:
Unplug. Old fashioned courtesy should be the norm, but is often MIA. When someone is presenting information, do not be rude by having your phone on the table and buzzing and lighting up with each new message. You would not want others doing that to you so don’t do it to them. It’s just not professional. No one is so important that you must respond to everything right then.
Listen–you will learn something. In order to listen you must hear what is being said. Be quiet, and don’t let others drag you into idol chatter. Look at the presenter, take notes, and offer interaction when appropriate. Not only will you hear what others are likely to miss, you will gain the respect of the presenter, who is probably presenting because he or she has earned to right to do so. Even if you are the only one, be professional.
How to have productive meetings:
Plan. The reason meetings are often dreaded is because they can be a waste of time.
If you schedule meetings, then make others glad they came by making sure its not a waste of time. Offer good content, opportunity for input, and purposeful interaction. Have an agenda and stick to it. Don’t let others ramble, be a confident leader and stick to the topic. Always start and end on time. You will lose credibility with those attending if you don’t keep on topic and move the meeting forward.
Offer visuals. Technology has made it easy to be innovative, so take time to create exciting meetings. Don’t expect to get peoples attention just by having a meeting, earn their respect by being creative, offering others a chance to lead, and hold those who participate accountable for excellent content. Also, ask others who are being a distraction to be quiet, leaders should not be afraid to lead and take charge.
Not another meeting? Today’s business environment awards those who still understand the importance of interpersonal skills. What you say without words is perhaps the most powerful and under utilized business skill in a highly competitive market place. Actions truly do speak louder than words, so when you do something as simple as attend a meeting, it’s up to you to make it matter.