How to stand out at your next meeting
Do you ever come away from a meeting at work feeling like you didn't get your message across clearly? You're not alone.
Meetings can be complex, because they're "one-to-few" communication. Generally, you’ll be one of a small number of people sitting at a meeting room table. The dynamic is different to a one-on-one conversation, and different again to communicating in front of a large group.
Start the meeting in your own mind, before you even arrive at the venue. How are you showing up? Are you on your A-game, with a clear intention that you want to make an impact and get your message across, or are you rushed, distracted or perhaps already expecting a poor outcome? Remember, what you’re thinking and feeling on the inside will radiate through your body language, tone and words and have a ripple effect on those around you. Make a deliberate choice about how you approach the meeting.
When you walk into the meeting room, remind yourself that you need to make a connection with everyone around the table. If you haven’t met some or all of the participants, get there early so you have time to introduce yourself. Even if you feel like hanging back and waiting for someone else to make the first move, take a deep breath, smile and make the first approach.
In the case of an in-house meeting where you already know everyone present, it’s still important to smile and greet each person. This sets a good foundation for communicating whatever you need to say once the formal discussion starts.
Thirdly, prepare what you’re going to say at the meeting. If you had to stand in front of a big audience and give a presentation, you'd probably take the time to prepare. Most of us don’t put the same level of preparation into participating in a meeting, but the outcomes can have even more significance.
Even if you're a passive attendee rather than someone presenting a report or paper at the meeting, read any paperwork beforehand and prepare your comments. Things mightn’t play out exactly as you expect, but at least you won’t be caught completely off guard or – even worse – sit silently and make no contribution.
A pinch of preparation – and showing up with a clear intention – will help ensure you’re heard at your next meeting.