How to Have an Effective Meeting

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Business and Finance
There has been much written about how to organize meetings, prepare agendas, make good presentations and motivate employees. However, not much attention is given to the employees responsibility to be an active participant at meetings. Not only is it a responsibility towards the company, but it is potentially career-enhancing for the individual.

Being involved at meetings is important because it sends a message that you are a contributing member with an interest in effective operations. Everyone wants to present well, but not enough people realize how their negative opinions about meetings might influence their moods and behavior and actually detract from their otherwise credible position in the organization.

Meetings are, regrettably, often the only time that senior personnel interact with their employees. That senior personnel interacts its fair or not, judgments are made about individuals based on their performance at these meetings. You might well be a diligent employee who consistently does good work but if you never open your mouth at meetings others will never know what you have to contribute, they may think you dont have an opinion about the issue at hand or worse, that you dont care.

Even if you dont have a lot of information to contribute, you can be involved in meetings and make a favorable impression on others. Start by entering the meeting room with a smile on your face and a positive mantra running through your head like I want to be here. I have something to say. I can make a contribution. It may sound crazy, but this will actually improve your mood. Make eye contact with others and nod and greet them as you settle in your seat. If there is an agenda, scan it to see if there are any topics that directly relate to you or about which you might be asked to offer an opinion. Prepare your thoughts and jot down some notes. Once the meeting is in progress really listen to the presentations, discussion and ask good questions. Be careful to place your questions appropriately and dont over do it!

There are many great questions you can ask. Ask questions to promote discussion questions about the background or historical perspective on the issue and what other stakeholders might think about it. Ask questions to clarify or redefine the issue and questions about economics and efficiency of dealing with it. Finally, if the discussion has gone on at length, others will thank you for trying to synthesize the issue and discussion and then checking for understanding.

Being an employee usually presupposes attendance at meetings. You can turn these into positive, career-enhancing opportunities by getting involved during the meeting and being an active participant! Who knows, you might even start to like meetings!