Meetings often don’t end the way as planned. There are divergent opinions that can lead to an acrimonious situation and the meeting can end on an inconclusive note. However, amidst all that chaos, you can still make your mark and leave an indelible impression on others.
In the cut-throat competitive world of corporate management, it is crucial for your own survival to know how to excel at business meetings. If you can master the trick, you can gradually become an asset for the management and rise up the corporate ladder.
Here, we share some few tips that can help you to handle business meetings successfully.
Know the Purpose of the Meeting
Business meetings are called for several reasons. It may be to address a difficult situation, to discuss a new project, to sort out issues among departments or to convey important information.
Whatever the reason, it is always better to know beforehand what the purpose of the meeting is. Ask for a printed agenda to be absolutely clear and prepared.
Plan your Own Agenda
Once you know the purpose of the meeting, the next step is to plan your own agenda. When you want to stand out from the crowd, it is essential to have a clear agenda.
Having a plan ready helps you to convey your ideas in a more lucid yet impactful manner as you will not fumble while trying to say something. Have all your facts and figures ready.
Listen to Others
Often listening is better than talking. Listening to what others are saying can give you a whole new perspective. Take notes of the points others are bringing up and ideate as the meeting progresses.
You can then tune the ideas and present them in your own unique way. Express your thoughts in a complete manner rather than in a haphazard way so that people understand your point.
Understand the Atmosphere
Before making any remark, judge the atmosphere and the way the meeting is headed. If all is good, you can make your points and discuss at length. You can even bring up several questions in order to steer the meeting in a direction that is favourable to you.
However, if the situation is turning bad, it is best to keep some of your ideas to yourself, which might not have a positive effect on others.
Build Your Credibility
Excelling in a particular meeting is not a one-off situation. There will be similar meetings often for various reasons.
Trying to excel in all of them is a continuous process.
Some days will be good while some will not go your way. However, one thing should be a constant – your acceptance among your seniors and co-workers.
Start by building your credibility through hard work and positive contribution on a regular basis. If people don’t respect you or take you seriously, you can hardly expect to leave your mark in a meeting.
Have the Right Attitude
Having the right attitude includes both your attire and your physical expression. It is a fact that people often judge others by their outward appearance and attitude. When attending a business meeting, be suitably dressed for the occasion.
Casual attire or shabby clothing may not create the best first impression. This does not necessarily mean you should be in suits in every meeting. Your attire should be smart, formal and dignified.
When it comes to your physical attitude, never try to be too overbearing and bully others into listening to you (unless you are the Boss!). Your colleagues are knowledgeable too and have their own ideas.
Be firm in your opinion but also be open to what others are saying.
Don’t be Overtly Persuasive
Being excessively persuasive can often be counterproductive.
Everybody wants others to listen to them and the meeting should be an open platform. Instead of being persuasive, try to impress others by putting your thoughts in a cohesive manner, adding a new perspective or offering a unique solution.
Be respectful in your approach and you might be able to turn others in your favour.
Don’t Hesitate to Bring up Thorny Issues
Often, the top management does not like ‘yes men’ or a herd mentality. They want managers who have their own mind and are bold enough to present both the pros and cons of a situation in the correct way.
So if you are confident about yourself, don’t hesitate to bring up issues that might be detrimental for the future of the organization. If your judgment is vindicated, the company will pay more attention to your views in future meetings.
Presenting an alternative perspective or bringing up issues that others want to avoid can be a great way of excelling at a business meeting.
Don’t Hesitate to Speak First
Once the agenda has been read and the meeting begins, don’t hesitate to speak first. This again depends on how confident you are and what value you can add. It requires extensive research on the agenda of the meeting so you should prepare well in advance.
As the first speaker, if you can confidently address all the issues, provide solutions or add something new, you can very well set the tone of the meeting. Most speakers after you will have little else to add so you can actually project yourself as a future leader.
Be the Last to Speak
Being the first to speak can be great for short meetings. However, if it’s a day-long meeting with a lunch break or a tea break, it is prudent to speak at the end. Your colleagues are likely to forget what the first speaker said and many other issues are likely to crop up during breaks.
As the last speaker, you can address such issues and bring up valid points that others will remember and take note of.
Excelling at business meetings is a proactive process. It’s something you learn over the years. To start with, work hard, understand your priorities, be open to others’ ideas and be smart enough to change your position quickly in keeping with the meeting.