There is a secret code among managers which goes something like this: ‘If you want to be productive and don’t know how, call for a meeting. People will know that you exist.’ Then there is also the time spent matching schedules with people across departments and of course following up with the minutes of the meeting. Face it, a lot of meetings are [for the lack of a better word] ‘an utter waste’ with no tangible outcome other than when to meet next.
Take this and add the fact that you also need to stand out in a meeting. After all, making an effective impression is like winning half the pitch. The more confidence you exhibit, the easier it becomes for others to like your personality. Plus, people who work with you need to be convinced of your capability to execute and yield positive results. So what is it all about? A firm hand shake? Being proactive? Yes & No!
Time! Time! Time! Yawn!
Guess there is no better way to say this except that the first thing you need to do is to set expectations right and stick to timelines. Here’s the thing, if a meeting requires one hour, work in a way that decisions are taken at the end of the hour. There is no point saying ‘let’s sleep over it’. Chances are you will refrain from taking action tomorrow because you will have a new meeting. What’s more? Keep it short. If you can’t convince someone or come to a conclusion in 60 minutes, chances are you might never really agree. Get the hint?
Respect the Moment
Being to a meeting on time is no longer a request. Understand that every individual present in the room has taken time off their schedules to be a part of this gathering. A formal acknowledgement and a little gratitude may work wonders. Once you are in the room, be in the moment. Don’t spend time on responding to messages that impact life outside the meeting. Add value to the moment you are in. After all, you chose to be there.
Don’t step into a meeting and then start thinking about why you are there. Plan a bit ahead [even if it means 10 minutes before the meeting] on some of the key points that might need a consensus. If you are the one making the presentation, go with less of text, more of conversations; being in sync with your content makes you come across as knowledgeable enough to hold your fort. Remember, everyone can read the deck after the meeting as well.
Love thy neighbor.
Just as you know how things work in your own department, make sure you have done your share of research on the people that you are interacting with. Even if it is an internal meeting, nothing impresses people more than an individual who knows what he is exactly getting into.
Communicate to Connect
Make it a point to look every attendee straight in the eye while addressing them. Let your gaze scroll over the crowd without aimlessly fixating on the wall. Your level of confidence can be gauged by the way you carry yourself. At the end of your conversation when you want to come to a unanimous conclusion, make it a point to individually seek everybody’s opinion, because it matters. Praise, criticism or suggestions, ideas in any form should be embraced even at this point. Especially look for people who have otherwise been quiet. Sometimes, this bunch may add a life altering perspective.
Keep distractions at bay.
A complete turn off would be when somebody is presenting vital statistics and your phone starts ringing because you forget to put it on ‘silent’. Worse, avoid playing a game on your phone while you sheepishly nod your way through the presentation. It’s obvious that you are not under scrutiny but then why should your body language exhibit signs of being disengaged?
It’s True! A series of meetings backed by lack of rest does lead to exhaustion. Communicating is exhausting. And if you’ve had one too many [meetings] in the day, an occasional yawn is not something you can control. What you can however do is control what happens next. Excuse yourself or ask for a short comfort break. Accept the fact that there comes a point when the human brain tends to switch off and refuses to pay attention. Early signs are you being fidgety or even absent mindedly stretching during a meeting. Plus, it is enough to create a lousy impression.
Stick to the plan.
Remember that success of a meeting begins right from when and how you send out invites [with a set agenda] to how you adhere to the agenda without deflecting. People, being people may want to build castles on mars. It’s your job to beam them back to earth and get the job moving in the right direction.