One essential aspect of organizational life is information exchange and decision-making through meeting attendance. We all desire to participate in meetings effectively.
“In many organizations, our leadership readiness is measured in part by our willingness to speak up in meetings,” author Allison Shapira stated in an April 2019 Harvard Business Review article titled “How to speak up in a meeting and when to hold back.” Our professional trajectory may be more impacted by our spontaneous speaking than by our prepared speeches or presentations.
Meeting attendees are advised by Tim Denning to “observe the silent folks… They remain silent. “There is so much hot air and noise,” Denning wrote in a September 2020 Ladders News post headlined, “Why quiet people in meetings are incredible.”
Active and effective participation in meetings can significantly contribute to advancing your career. Meetings are often opportunities to showcase your skills, demonstrate leadership qualities, and build positive relationships with colleagues. Here are tips on how to be an effective meeting participant to enhance your career:
- Come Prepared:
- Review the meeting agenda and any relevant materials beforehand. Being prepared shows that you value everyone’s time and are committed to the meeting’s objectives.
- Contribute Thoughtfully:
- Share your insights and ideas during discussions. Thoughtful contributions demonstrate your expertise and engagement with the topic at hand.
- Listen Actively:
- Pay close attention to what others are saying. Active listening is a crucial skill that shows respect for your colleagues and helps you fully understand the information being discussed.
- Ask Questions:
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions for clarification or to seek additional information. Asking thoughtful questions demonstrates your curiosity and engagement in the conversation.
- Stay Engaged:
- Avoid distractions and stay focused on the meeting. Engaged participants are more likely to be perceived as valuable team members.
- Respect Others’ Speaking Time:
- Allow others to speak without interruption. Respectful communication fosters a positive and collaborative meeting environment.
- Build on Others’ Ideas:
- Acknowledge and build on the ideas presented by your colleagues. This collaborative approach demonstrates teamwork and a willingness to contribute to collective success.
- Follow Up on Action Items:
- If action items are assigned during the meeting, follow up on your commitments promptly. Demonstrating reliability and accountability is key to building trust with your colleagues.
- Express Gratitude:
- Acknowledge the efforts of your colleagues and express gratitude for their contributions. Positive interactions contribute to a supportive and collaborative work environment.
- Demonstrate Professionalism:
- Maintain a professional demeanor during meetings. This includes being punctual, avoiding negative or disruptive behavior, and treating everyone with respect.
- Provide Constructive Feedback:
- If appropriate, offer constructive feedback during discussions. This shows that you are engaged in the conversation and focused on continuous improvement.
- Be Solution-Oriented:
- Instead of solely pointing out problems, strive to offer solutions or suggestions. This proactive approach demonstrates your problem-solving skills.
- Showcase Your Leadership Skills:
- Volunteer to lead discussions or take on responsibilities that showcase your leadership skills. This could involve moderating a part of the meeting or facilitating group activities.
- Stay Positive and Constructive:
- Maintain a positive and constructive attitude, even in challenging discussions. Positivity and a solutions-oriented mindset contribute to a healthy team culture.
- Networking Opportunities:
- Use meetings as networking opportunities. Engage with colleagues, build relationships, and demonstrate your commitment to the team’s success.
By consistently being an effective meeting participant, you not only contribute to the success of your team but also position yourself as a valuable and proactive member of the organization. This can lead to increased visibility, opportunities for leadership roles, and overall career advancement.