Every meeting you attend is an opportunity for you to put your best foot forward. Managers and co-workers can tell a great deal about you by what you say and do in meetings. How you participate and what you contribute can be a determining factor in promotions, salary increases and even whether you’re part of a staff downsizing or not.
Here are some simple ways to put your best foot forward and be a more productive meeting participant:
RSVP To Every Meeting Invitation
When you’re invited to a meeting, promptly RSVP indicating whether or not you will be attending. Make this a standard practice, even if the meeting invitation doesn’t request a response. This is just a simple courtesy that shows your respect and enthusiasm. It also helps make planning and managing the meeting much easier.
Preparation is the key to putting your best foot forward and contributing to a productive and successful meeting. Always come to the meeting prepared. If no meeting agenda and reading materials are sent prior to the meeting, or if you are unclear about the purpose or agenda, contact the meeting organizer for information or clarification.
Be On Time
Any meeting that is important enough for you to attend is important enough for you to arrive on time. Arriving at a meeting late not only slows down or prolongs the meeting, shows you have no respect for others attending and sends out a signal that you just don’t care.
Check Your Ego At The Door
Meetings are no place for inflated egos and personal agendas. The meeting is not about you, but about something of interest to the company and every person attending. Make it a practice to check your ego at the door and be a professional participant with valuable input.
Leave Your Cell Phone Behind
Either leave your cell phone back at your desk, or if you must bring it to the meeting, turn it off or set it on vibrate. If there’s a chance you might be receiving a call from a client or someone you absolutely need to speak to, inform your associates that you might have to leave the meeting for a moment to take an important call. Displaying a lack of cell phone etiquette ranks high on many executives’ lists of unprofessional and unacceptable behavior.
Keep A Positive Outlook
Maintain a positive, “can-do” attitude, even if the purpose of the meeting is to discuss something potentially negative such as budget cuts, client complaints or an extremely challenging project with tight deadlines. Negativity accomplishes nothing and only lengthens the meeting, and prolongs the agony of the decision making process. A positive attitude and ideas always produce progress.
Agree To Disagree Amiably
Meetings involve a two way communication process, and often disagreements will naturally occur. Disagreements can be healthy and even lead to innovative solutions to problems and positive change.
So always respect others’ points of view and “agree to disagree” in a professional and amiable manner. Arguing accomplishes nothing. It only antagonizes people, causes dissent on the team, decreases productivity and prolongs the meeting.
Make Your Points Quickly and Clearly
Nothing is more annoying than a person who talks on and on as the clock ticks away. This only shows that the person speaking is unprepared or has nothing of value to say. Well-prepared meeting participants can make their points clearly and concisely. Everyone notices and appreciates this.
Be Mindful of the Time But Don’t Watch The Clock
Time is valuable. Keep in mine that everyone has places to go and things to do after the meeting, so it’s in the best interest of everyone to end the meeting on schedule. Be professional and do everything you can to keep the meeting progressing, especially keeping your comments short, relevant and to the point. However, don’t be a clock watcher who is constantly looking at the wall-clock, their cell phone or wrist watch.
Thank The Meeting Organizer
Always try to email the person who called the meeting to thank them for the opportunity to participate and provide your input. This is also an excellent opportunity to include additional feedback or ideas you didn’t have a chance to present during the meeting. Your co-workers will respect and appreciate this small extra effort.
Follow Up Promptly
If you were assigned any tasks or action items during the meeting, be sure to follow-up and complete them as soon as possible. This shows you’re a serious team player who wants to work together with your colleagues to get the job done.
Putting these into practice will help you get more out of the meetings you attend, and at the same time enhance your professional reputation and advance your career. Try it… you’ll see.