How to Conduct Yourself in Meetings
Here we have put together some thoughts on how to conduct yourself in meetings and get the most out of them. We’d also like to invite you to join us in our Being Effective in Meetings webinar on Monday 20th May at 1-2pm GMT, to learn more about this.
To get you started, first think about who’s attending your meeting:
You need to ask yourself questions about who the attendees are going to be and why. As an attendee, you may be there because of your position and your status. The reason that you’re there could be because you’ve always been there. Those are not necessarily good reasons to even be there. However, the most crucial reasons include the purpose of the meeting, the contribution you can offer, what you can take away from it and the ways in which it will help you to do your job.
What makes a good meeting?
The quality of the person chairing the meeting is very important. Are they any good? Professional workers can often be pretty awful chair people. Sometimes people who aren’t good in other arenas are actually very competent at chairing. This raises another question – is the boss always the chairman? Bosses usually have the most information and know most about the team or organization. They usually have the most power too, meaning they are the most authoritative. Bear in mind also that great chair people are usually good because of the quality of their listening, it does not necessarily follow that the boss makes the best chairperson.
Think about your role & other key people’s roles
So, answering the question of how to conduct yourself in a meeting, let’s think about where we’re conducting the meeting. Really determine what you’re going to give to the others at the meeting and what it is you want from them. When you identify those people who are at the core, there are probably a very small number of individuals who are central to the meeting. Other people should they come in for a very short period to present or listen.
A good chairperson should be clear about what the planned outcomes are. The meeting must have an agenda. That agenda is not just something that’s thrown together but must subtly dictate the flow and development of the meeting by ordering items for discussion in a logical fashion.
Anybody who comes to the meeting must be well prepared. This includes being clear about their contribution to it. In order to give everyone time to prepare, it’s important to give them enough time to gather data and get an idea of what’s going to happen so that they don’t just sleepwalk through the meeting. They must be prepared to take decisions. Sometimes people aren’t in a position to take decisions because they’re part of the process, but that’s rare. Often meetings are called together in order to decide an outcome. Discipline depends very much on context. So in the public domain (i.e. the Houses of Parliament and in other environments like local government), the meeting notes are comprehensive or even verbatim. Otherwise, they can just be about actions that were agreed.
Inefficient meetings have the following characteristics. They never start on time, they’re unproductive, they waste people’s time and are badly chaired. People attend and never say anything, nobody’s prepared and nobody makes a decision.
Here are 8 tips for best practice at a meeting:
- There’s a pre-agreed agenda
- The participants earnt their right to be at the meeting
- The meeting starts on time
- There are no distractions, there is one meeting and there’s one conversation at a time
- The meeting is tightly chaired
- Everybody is welcome to contribute to the meeting
- There are actions taken on every agenda item.
How do you conduct yourself in a meeting like this?
- Adhere to the guidelines of the meeting
- You need to check out whether you’re required to attend
- Be well prepared
- Listen hard
- Make points appropriately
- Share your thoughts without over-committing
At many meetings, at least one person will be required to make a presentation and in some cases, all or most participants will be called upon to make a presentation, even if each one is just a few minutes long. Here are some tips on how to present at a meeting:
- You need to know where the meeting is being held in advance, to plan how you’re going to set up the projector, flip board or anything else you’re using for your presentation
- Check how much time you have for your presentation
- Make sure you’ve been properly briefed on what’s required of you during your presentation
- Deliver appropriate information to your audience during the presentation
- Leave time for your fellow meeting attendees to ask questionsbout what you’ve spoken about and what you’ve shown them.
By Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition (www.positionignition.com) and the Career Ignition Club (www.careerignitionclub.com), the UK’s leading career change and career development company and platform. He is also the author of 125 LinkedIn Job Search Tips (http://www.positionignition.com/100-linkedin-job-search-tips). Follow him @PosIgnition for more help with your career challenges.