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Making an impact at meetings – your personal guide series

, November 26, 2014, 0 Comments

meetings personal guide-MarketExpress-inPerformance reviews happen throughout the year! Not just quarterly or at year end. At work we are constantly being observed, evaluated and judged …Do you realise that meetings are also forums for evaluation; by multiple observers, across levels, functions and that too simultaneously. Reflect on this the next time you gripe about the valuable time you lose during a work day by attending meetings.

Meetings however unpopular are a part and parcel of any professional’s existence. Depending on the culture of the company the occurrence, time allocated to and expectations from the meetings vary.

No one is ever invited to a meeting just to be a prop or to be a replacement to a potted plant! You are either expected to contribute immediately or post the meeting in some way. So if you have to attend meetings, might as well as make the best of it… For both -yourself and others .Here’s a simple guide to do that.


  • The Meeting will already have a pre-circulated agenda. However, always set an expected outcome or desired objective for yourself from the Meeting.
  • Analyse at a personal and professional level what the meeting will bring to you? Be very clear as to what you are looking to achieve from it.
  • Never merely ‘attend ‘.Have something to gain; it could be better networking, relationship building or information seeking. E.g.
  • More information to do your job better
  • Clarity on inter- departmental assignments
  • Clarity on allocation of resources
  • A decision on a vital aspect of an ongoing project
  • Better co-operation
  • Understanding how the targets ,deadlines ,commitments of others across teams affect you and team
  • Business Plans for the future


  • The agenda for the meeting communicates the points up for discussion. So be prepared with your data, your updates from team members and on-going projects. You don’t want to be caught ignorant when a query specific to you comes up.
  • If it is a meeting to discuss viable solutions to a problem, come prepared with alternatives taking into account the varying permutations, combinations and realities. Also consider the information/status of other departments or clients before putting forth your suggestions.
  • Most meetings have a written and formal agenda but there often might be unwritten expectations specific to you, which may or may not be communicated formally, you need to be aware of and be clear on them all the same.
  • Above all, be on the same page as your boss or your co-worker. Two people from the same team shouldn’t be at cross purposes in an open forum with others.
  • Also, it definitely does not help your cause if you go wandering off into unchartered and unexpected territory on your own creating unpleasant surprises and issues.


The Time

Don’t talk too much and monopolise the meetings.

It’s not a one- on- one or a speech .Give an opportunity to others to make their points too.

If what you have to say is expansive, offer to circulate the points post the meeting and limit your current talking points.

Body Language of Others –The body language of others often functions as an excellent guide as to your performance in meetings.

Are they paying attention, nodding in agreement, making notes, asking questions, contributing information, making eye contact? That’s great! You are on track.

Are they shaking their heads in disagreement , avoiding eye contact , trying to interrupt to frequently , smiling mockingly or disdainfully ,yawning too much ,talking to each other instead of listening ? Does your co-worker or boss look irritated or angry? You have gone wrong somewhere .Time to get back on track or even better, conclude!

Your own energy levels, language and gestures – The power of an open minded, positive and strong team member does wonderful things for results. Your own body language is often taken as an indication of your attention, your energy and yes amazingly your commitment.

Looking bored, yawning frequently, checking for messages or sending them; total silence and non-participation are perceived as lack of involvement and read negatively by others.

Using your hands, voice modulation, eye contact with all – emphasizes your point rather well and at the same time exhibits your self –confidence, attention to detail and excellent communication skills.

Don’t get personal, don’t go on the offensive. Seek co-operation by being fair and firm. Argumentative and rude behaviour is generally frowned upon. There is always a way to put across your point without losing your cool.

Listen don’t just talk

I’ve already emphasized the important of being concise but an additional aspect that goes hand in hand and should not be ignored, is really listening to others.

We often have our head full of our own opinion and our own agenda. Listening to others and their thoughts, ideas, perspectives, problems takes a set-back.

This impacts our own response-time and effectiveness .Listening underscores your empathy, your leadership and team skills and aids your implementation and success rate.

Follow-up actions

A meeting without follow-up actions, steps etc. is much like a well bereft of water. All talk and no action. Don’t be dependent on circulation of minutes. Prepare your own points of action, clarity and act on them.

Address certain points offline

While confrontation cannot always be avoided; every disagreement or difference does not have to be taken up in a meeting.

Sometimes best results flow from one- on -one interactions.

Reserve the broad issues or topics for meetings.

Analyse and improve

Observe, analyse and introspect on your performance in a meeting.

What could have changed? What could you have done better?

If you do receive well-meaning feedback from a colleague or a boss; don’t just write it off, act on it.

As singer Paula Abdul once said, ‘When you go to meetings or auditions and you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It is simple but true.’