Many people dread going to a business meeting.
It’s a time when you feel judged, scrutinized, and just plain uncomfortable.
If you want your meetings to be different than the norm, avoid these common mistakes:
-Don’t interrupt someone right after they speak by jumping into your own opinion or question without letting them finish their thoughts or idea; this will only confuse the rest of those in attendance who are trying hard to keep up with everything being discussed
-Don’t be negative or speak too much; everyone has a lot to say, but some people get more air time than others because they are not as assertive in sharing their ideas. This can lead to frustration and confusion.
-Don’t make suggestions too often, unless they are really important to the group’s goals.
-Don’t show up unprepared; take notes on what everyone is discussing so that you can contribute in future meetings and not have to ask questions all of the time.
-Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need one, but don’t leave for long periods without communicating your departure and return with those still in attendance.
-Don’t avoid taking responsibility if you identify a problem or know an answer crucial to the group’s success.
-Don’t be too quiet in group discussions. Speak up and share your thoughts if you have something to contribute!
-Don’t dominate conversations or interrupt other attendees unnecessarily. Listen more than you talk.
-Don’t give negative feedback about the meeting itself, its agenda or what was said by other attendees unless it’s constructive criticism aimed at making future meetings better. It is not okay to complain just about the sake of complaining, as that will only get you in trouble.
-Don’t forget to be respectful with your note-taking. Don’t write anything that would make someone else feel uncomfortable or worry too much about you.
-Don’t be the person that brings a snack to the meeting unless it’s been discussed ahead of time with others and they all said yes. You should also take care not to eat too much or make your food smell bad by cooking something in advance without telling anyone else.
-Don’t be a know-it-all. Keep an open mind!
Now that you know the things not to do in a meeting let’s look at the things to do in a meeting:
-Do excuse yourself politely when necessary, but don’t go against any agreements made with the group.
-Do think about what you want out of the meeting before it starts and focus on that purpose.
-Do take notes during the meeting. It can be helpful for you to remember what was discussed and how it all ties into your goals.
-Do speak up! Ask questions when the time is right and offer your opinion if you’re asked to share it or feel confident enough that what you have to say will be valuable and constructive for fellow attendees.
-Do try new things! Encourage others at the table to share their ideas as well.
Do stay appropriately attentive during meetings, not too engaged or distracted, which can have negative effects on other attendees’ ability to focus on the material.
-Do try to be as objective as possible during group discussions, even if it’s difficult for you to do so (you may still have both a personal and professional opinion).
-Do look for and find ways to help others at the meeting, even if it’s just by listening well during someone else’s time to speak.
-Do use the meeting as an opportunity to make contact with other people in the room, but do so by asking them questions about themselves or their work rather than telling them things about yourself that you think they want to hear. You need to get other’s attention by asking the right questions.
-Do your best to remember names and associations you make with people, but don’t feel like you need to get it all perfect the first time around – other people will help fill in some gaps for you as they hear about your impressions.
Your responsibility is for yourself only.