Meetings are a large part of what many managers do in the workplace, spending as much as 35 to 50 percent of their time in meetings, or on average up to four hours a week. How you conduct yourself in a meeting is incredibly important to your career. Meetings are a platform to show your knowledge and leadership abilities to other colleagues. How you communicate and advocate for your point of view, answer tough questions and facilitate discussions really shows what you are made of. Coworkers are listening, assessing and judging each other during meetings. Here are five recommendations to help you navigate workplace meetings and to help gain and expand your credibility.
- Aim to speak up in the first five minutes of a meeting. By getting your voice in the room early you show that you have the confidence to engage in the conversation and to get your ideas out while everyone is still fresh and paying attention.
- Build on the ideas already being discussed around the table. It may be tempting to wait for an original and creative concept to come to you before your speak up. You may be waiting awhile, so to be fully engaged in the topic at hand, you should look for common themes in the discussion to move the conversation forward. This will help steer the conversation toward the end goal, by getting colleagues to focus on areas of agreement rather than talking over each other.
- Ask questions to encourage creative thinking. Spend time listening to what others have to say rather than talking too much. Rather than throwing a barrage of ideas around, set yourself apart by listening and asking questions to encourage others to open up and think expansively. Instead of asking “why” questions, prompt further creativity in the group by asking “how” and “what” questions.
- Do your homework before you go to a meeting. You should always be prepared for a meeting to establish yourself in a position of strength. Having your thoughts together before a meeting will build your credibility and help you feel more confident. Make sure to read through the meeting agenda, do advance research and come up with some ideas beforehand. Be flexible since often meetings don’t go exactly the way they should, and unexpected issues or glitches come up.
- Focus on the next steps. Often people are frustrated since they think nothing is accomplished in a meeting. Be the person who asks about next steps and what assignments are needed to meet the goals of the meeting.
Source: “5 Ways Smart People Use Meetings to Boost Their Credibility,” by Kristi Hedges, The Muse
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