By Samantha Weissgold
Samantha Weissgold is Careerstone Group’s 2022 Summer Intern. She attends Bentley University as a Marketing Major.
Most jobs come with plenty of meetings. No matter your career phase, you’ll find yourself attending meetings on a regular basis. Meetings provide an opportunity to make a favorable impression on your boss and coworkers. It’s a great way to establish and enhance your brand. For that reason, it is essential not only to take part in the meeting but to also feel confident in any meeting. The first step to being a good meeting participant takes place before you even arrive at the meeting.
Read our five tips for being the best meeting participant possible:
1. Come Prepared
Attending a meeting for which you are not prepared can be stressful. The saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” can be applied to more than quizzes and exams in school. The degree of preparation depends on the type of the meeting. Preparation for any meeting should consist of the 5 W’s.
Why are we having this meeting?
What are we planning to achieve in this meeting?
When is the meeting taking place?
Am I available for the meeting?
Where is the meeting taking place?
Is it in person or a virtual meeting?
Who is in the meeting?
Who is benefiting from the meeting and why?
What is my role?
What do I need to do to be helpful in this meeting?
2. Be Present and Engaged
Great meeting participants are engaged and present. This means paying attention and staying focused on meeting discussions and dynamics. Resist the urge to multitask! Demonstrate engagement by balancing listening and speaking. It is important to give your opinion and advice, but it is also important to listen and collaborate with others. While you may be eager to bring your ideas to the table, make sure you balance that with hearing the ideas of others. It is important to recognize that talking too much can dilute the impact of your opinions in the meeting.
If you’re joining virtually, turn on your camera and write a quick note in the chat, either to everyone or the tech producer: “finishing lunch…will turn my camera on shortly” or “stepping away momentarily; camera off briefly.” If you’ll need to be off camera entirely, be sure to contact the meeting lead ahead of time and let them know. It’s hard to imagine you’d show up to an in-person meeting just get up and walk out of the conference room without a quick word to someone next to you—“forgot my laptop” or “grabbing some water” – so remember that same etiquette when you’re joining a meeting virtually.
3. Be Mindful of Body Language
Meeting etiquette and body language are important aspects of being a good participant. Nonverbal communication is a great way to get cues from people in a meeting. Seeing how people physically react when you speak, can help ensure your message was received properly.
Make sure your body language sends the right message. Put your phone away or have it on silent. To show respect and minimize distractions, let others in the meeting know if you are waiting for an important call. Sit up straight, try to not fidget, make eye contact with whoever is speaking, and nod when you agree with the points being made in the meeting. Rolling your eyes is never a good idea!
4. Take Notes
Taking notes in any meeting provides valuable records of what was discussed. It helps refresh your memory about the topics covered and reminds you of any actions to complete after the meeting. Taking notes also allows you to share a summary of the topics that were discussed in the meeting with people who did not attend the meeting. It also helps you remember who was in the meeting and if any key decisions were made.
Introverts could consider sending out summaries and notes from the meeting that can include action items and any additional points that you were not able to present during the meeting.
5. Follow Through
It can be tempting to write down what needs to be done after the meeting and put it all the way at the bottom of your “to do” list. That may not be the best approach, though. Compiling a list of action items right when the meeting ends is a great opportunity to demonstrate your organization skills and a reliability.
Facilitating your next meeting? Check out this month’s companion blog post, written by Kristen Shattuck, Careerstone’s Director of Training and Facilitation.