Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you will have meetings. Although sometimes inconvenient, they are a valuable and effective tool that can also serve as a measure of your professional-ness. This is a time when your team or greater organization comes together to get everyone on the same page, exchange ideas, promote teamwork, and demonstrate culture. Although all meetings may not feel important, your composure and presentation show indication of your entire professional self. No matter the meeting, you must bring your A-game.
Here are a few tips on how to be your best meeting self:
1. Come Prepared
Good meeting etiquette begins before the meeting does. Meeting prep goes beyond simply having materials ready, you must be mentally ready as well. If your mind is elsewhere during a meeting, chances are you won’t deliver your best self. Find a natural stopping point in your projects so you can be totally present in each meeting.
2. Preparation, Part 2
Before the meeting begins, be sure to familiarize yourself with the agenda and be prepared to ask and answer questions and provide support. You should have materials ready for not only yourself, but others as well. Technology can be fussy and distracting, so print items out to share your insights.
3. Arrive Promptly
This should go without saying, but always arrive on time. You don’t want that awkward hustling in and missing information.
4. Actively Participate
This also sounds obvious, but it’s true. It can feel easy to zone out, but practicing active listening and asking questions demonstrates your investment.
5. Take Notes
Writing physical notes is a great way to actively participate and remember what happened. A lot goes on in these meetings, it’s impossible to remember everything. Jot down your post-meeting action items, next steps, project notes, important reminders, even write down your questions to ask later in the meeting when they are appropriate.
6. Leave the Tech Outside
Bringing in a laptop, phone, or tablet can feel tempting, but it’s just too distracting. While you might have quick access to information, it might be too much information. Emails and texts come in, news updates, it’s just not worth splitting your attention. If you absolutely must, put your phone on silent and keep your laptop in its case until necessary.
7. Nervous Habits and Body Language
Be aware of your nervous habits: leg bouncing, hair twirling, finger tapping, pen clicking… Those can all be major distractions and annoyances for others. If you have nervous energy, take a moment to analyze why. Are you presenting a big project? Are you bored? Simply being aware of why you have this nervous energy can help diminish it.
While you’re taking inventory of yourself, take a look at your posture. No slouching or boxing out coworkers. Sit up straight and look confident and invested.
Again, meeting etiquette doesn’t end when the meeting does. Follow up with meeting members, provide requested materials, and meet all meeting points with action.
Your preparedness and action will only serve you in these meetings. Absorb information and actively participate and you’ll be sure to deliver your best work and wow your boss.