Everyone loves to hate meetings. We talk about how unproductive they are, ultimately wasting volumes of time and money. It’s easy to see how many people might develop a particular…. attitude towards them.
Accomplishing the goal of having more effective meetings is a two-way street. While we often talk about how to run meetings more effectively, we rarely talk about what attendees should do to also help make these meetings more effective.
Take a moment and reflect on your own attitudes and behaviors towards your meetings. Ask yourself:
- Are you on time? Being on time isn’t just good manners: it shows respect towards all of the other people who are also attending the meeting, acknowledging that their time is just as valuable as yours.
- Do you have a positive attitude? A negative attitude can infect and derail even the most beneficial of meetings. Remember, you’ve been invited to a meeting because either its outcomes affect you, involve you, or could benefit from your expertise. Try to bring your most supportive professional attitude – even to the meetings you don’t want to go to.
- Do you contribute to the meeting? Remember – as a participant, you have a part to play in the meeting. Don’t just sit like a bump on a log… listen. Take notes. Offer your insights.
- Do you encourage others to join in? Conversely, take note of the other people in the room. Sometimes people are hesitant to offer their opinions – because of the rank of those in the room, or how new they are to the organization… or maybe simply because they’re shy. Ease them into the conversation by sharing, “Mary, I know you have more experience than I do in this arena – can you tell us about….?”
- Do you address the issues rather than attacking the people? It’s easy for things to get heated when discussing sensitive topics like how to allocate scarce resources. Strike a balance between advocating for yourself and your department versus creating animosity.
- Do you volunteer to help? Be willing to step up and help – even in a small way such as following up with deliverables or offering to send out additional information you’ve referenced in the meeting. Take the initiative rather than waiting to be called on to follow up.
- Do you listen and follow the conversation? Yes – maybe you are “there” physically in the meeting – but are you listening? Or are you doing other work? Replying to email on your smartphone? Daydreaming? Don’t just be “present.” Be actively listening and engaged in the meeting.
- Do you build on others’ contributions? Or do you talk over their ideas? … Or worse, co-opt their contributions as your own?
Meetings can be valuable methods for solving problems, deciding issues, or even creating new opportunities – but only if everyone shows up to the meetings in a professional, positive frame of mindset on the addressing the objective of the meeting.
Check out our books and courses to learn more about how to run effective meetings.