Meetings have a bad rap in today’s workplace. Do a quick poll around the office and you’re sure to find that most of your colleagues would gladly wipe a few meetings off their calendar, if given the choice. However, when meetings are run properly, they can become meaningful, engaging and relevant activities in the workplace.
Instead of dreading your next business meeting, consider how you could use it as an opportunity to advance your career. Whether you recently entered the workforce, just started a new position or would like to take the next step in your career, your performance in meetings can help you make your mark at a company and boost your success.
“Business meetings are a great place to network and foster strong business relationships, so it’s important that you know how stand out among your peers,” says Rory Channer, CBO of CircleBack Inc., a comprehensive contact management solution.
Channer recommends six simple strategies to help you stand out and shine at your next business meeting.
Prep the team
If you’re in charge of the meeting, make sure everyone invited understands its purpose before they set foot in the room. Whenever possible, give the group something to think about or work on ahead of time. This tactic will ensure that you maximize your time together and get off to a productive start. By doing this, Channer says, you give the team the opportunity to more actively participate in meetings, fostering a community discussion rather than a one-way transmission.
Maximize any "in-between" time
If you’re meeting clients at their office, someone will likely come greet you in the lobby and escort you to the appropriate room. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain more insight into the organization and the meeting at hand. Whether the person is a key player in today’s meeting or the executive assistant to one of the decision makers, Channer recommends avoiding the usual small talk and instead tailoring the conversation to get a quick read on what’s going on in the organization and who’s influencing what.
Give a proper introduction
Before launching into your routine song and dance, Channer advises that you kick off with a proper introduction. In addition to introducing yourself and your firm, use this time to set the tone for the meeting. Ask a few questions you’ve prepared ahead of time to gauge everyone’s expectations and knowledge level for the meeting. Don’t assume everyone is on the same page, warns Channer. Take notes from some tried-and-true teacher tactics, and spend a few minutes at the beginning of your meeting to recap any critical information and ensure everyone is up to speed. This small investment will promote better focus and productivity throughout the rest of the meeting.
Appeal to a variety of styles
Some folks in the room will prefer to learn with visual aids, while others will be content to simply listen to your proposal. Do yourself a favor and incorporate images, handouts, flipcharts or other visual aids into your presentation to appeal to everyone’s learning styles and ensure your material is being received and retained by the group. Learn how to bring out the best in yourself and others during your next meeting by gaining insight into your communication strengths and learning style with this article by Fast Company.
Capitalize on collaboration
We’ve all heard the adage, “two heads is better than one.” When you gather a great group of people in a room, make sure you capitalize on this opportunity. Set aside some time to consider everyone’s ideas and suggestions. Make sure you collect and organize this information so it can be utilized after the meeting. Channer recommends giving people space to engage; however, he warns that if you’re not careful, the meeting can quickly get off track. Afraid someone on your team might derail your meeting or turn it into a complaint session? Check out these tips from Harvard Business Review for dealing with those errant team members.
As hard as you may “mine for conflict,” chances are not everyone at the table will feel comfortable sharing their opinions during the meeting. Channer suggests circling back with those folks you think are not yet aligned or seemed distant during the meeting. Make sure you engage with these folks in a variety of ways (i.e. group, one-on-one, via email, phone or private chat) to ensure you get buy-in from all the key stakeholders involved in your project.
Source: The Ladders
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