Working on being your best self and smashing your own success means you either own your meetings or you don’t. You either sit in, studiously taking notes and don’t let your voice be heard, or you come prepared with ideas of your own, know exactly what the meeting is about and are ready to be actively engaged, no matter how much time it takes out of your day.
Productivity experts say that meetings drain a lot of potential work time throughout the day, but the truth is that sometimes they are necessary, and you get back what you put in – at the end of the day. With that in mind, here are a few tips to make sure you smash every meeting, focus on your own success and let your performance speak for itself:
DON’T BE THE LAST TO KNOW
This is the reason why you need a desk pad. As long as you have that meeting written down and have used the notes sections to do a bit of research, you’re in the clear. If you know the meeting is on a certain topic, why not get ahead and read up. If it’s a weekly meeting, have something to say in it too. You want to set yourself up for success and be known as someone who tackles meetings head on, so always be prepared.
There’s nothing worse than sitting in a meeting about a project that you haven’t fully prepared, or hoping that nobody asks you because you missed the memo. If in doubt, ask, and write it all down on your desk pad.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS (AT THE RIGHT TIME)
Meetings can get sidetracked really easily. If you have a lot of questions that are sort of related to the meeting but could easily end up diverting the entire purpose to something else, you need to be smart. You can say: “I know this might be a diversion but I was wondering if we could discuss X at some point, maybe in our next meeting?”
This shows consideration for whoever is holding the meeting and allows them to decide if your unrelated question should be discussed now or added to an email or the next meeting’s agenda. You can also send an email to everyone in the meeting with a few points you want to discuss next time.
BRING SOME POWER TO YOUR MEETINGS
It’s so easy to zone out, we’ve all done it. The best way to stay on track would be to do quick eye contact checks. Every few minutes, make eye contact with the speaker and nod to affirm that you’re listening. Your body language should look engaged and interesting. While you don’t quite need to do the superman pose to show that you’re feeling powerful and alert, you should sit up straight, uncross your arms and show how interested you are.
TAKE SMARTER NOTES
Your note taking system is all wrong. If you want to make the most out of any meeting, you should start by learning how to take notes faster, so you have a more accurate list of what’s going on. You don’t have to learn shorthand, but you can create a series of symbols and cut out words to create your own note-taking system. If you’re taking your Getting Stuff Done planner or Make It Happen notebook with you to a meeting, this is easier than ever.
You can use arrows to keep track of task assignments, draw circles to remind yourself of key points and simply remove the vowels from words to write faster if you want to be on top of the notes. You can section your notes too if your meeting is longer. Start with the beginning, key points, and make a quick bullet of questions you’d like to ask that are related. That way you don’t forget what you were going to ask originally, and can always follow up on points after the meeting has commenced.
END ON A HIGH
You can end your meeting (without seeming like you have to have the last word) by simply repeating the tasks you need to do, or things you need to research. Later on, you can tell the person who hosted the meeting some of the key takeaways you got from the meeting and thank them. Obviously, you don’t have to do this every time, but it’s a great thing to do for someone who’s holding a first time meeting, or someone who gave a great deal of research. That way, you’re complimenting them and letting them know that you’re open to feedback for the next meeting you’re in charge of.
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