A quick Google search provides pages upon pages of articles about how to run an effective meeting, but where is the guidance on how to participate profitably in a meeting you’re not running? Perhaps, we would consider meetings more successful if we considered how to be a better meeting-goer. Ask yourself this: Are you helping to make the meeting an evolutionary step of the organization or are you wasting our time?
If a meeting is a gathering of the tribe, each one of us has a responsibility to respectfully contribute our time, talent and ideas, for the greater benefit of the tribe. We must also accept that others have these same valuable contributions. Without that, resources (time, money and ideation) are squandered, communication breaks down and goals, both big and small, aren’t achieved.
Here are a few ways you can be a better meeting-goer:
1. Be prompt & prepared. These two items go hand in hand. Who cares if you show up on time if you don’t have the information requested? Conversely, no one wants to sit there waiting for 10 minutes until you decide to show up with the materials we’re supposed to be discussing. Time is valuable and it only moves forward.
2. Contribute you. Whatever skills, talent or knowledge you possess that won you your job is what is required in a meeting. Your input, your point of view is incredibly unique and wanted. Please give us that.
3. Make room for others. This isn’t just about physical space, but more importantly, allowing for other peoples skills, talents and knowledge. Don’t talk over people - listen fully to what they say and ingest it before responding. Acknowledge when someone has been talked over by encouraging them to finish what they were saying.
4. Put your phone away. Seriously, put it away. During this time, in this space, give us your undivided attention and stop playing Fortnight under the table.
5. Don’t steal the meeting. Sure, you may have more to say on a subject, maybe a lot more, but are you preaching to the choir or beating a dead horse? Neither moves us forward and just eats time and energy. Be bold, be brief, be seated.
The next time you attend a meeting, don’t just attend, participate and contribute profitably. Encourage others to do the same. It’s a universal trope that meetings suck, but they don’t have to if we meeting-goers learn to do it better.
LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics, headquartered in Charleston, SC. Her company provides a wealth of soft skills training events that utilize theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans. To schedule a well-run and engaging meeting, please reach out to us at 843-771-0753.