In the last article we have talked about running a meeting effectively. So now we are going to look at the other side of it: Participation. How can you be a good participant and make an effective contribution to any meeting? Let’s find out.
Make sure you are at the meeting for good reasons
Once you receive the meeting agenda, go through it thoroughly and understand the purpose of the meeting. If it’s unclear, ask the organiser for more information. Make sure there is something in this meeting that concerns you; either you can make a healthy contribution to the proceedings or gain some valuable input, or both. However, if there is nothing you can relate with, decline the invitation giving your reasons.
Be on time
If you decide to accept the invitation, make sure you know the exact date and time of the meeting. Confirm it with organisers if you are not sure. Remember to be on time no matter how busy you are. It’s rude and unprofessional to keep others waiting on your behalf.
Do your research about the agenda and make your own notes of key points you would like to discuss in the meeting. This is a good way to participate properly. Bring up the relevant points in the meeting as they fit in with the agenda and flow of the meeting.
Be patient and take notes
Don’t just think about making your own point, be a patient and attentive listener to what others have to say. Take notes where necessary and stay attentive for the duration. It also helps to keep your own points precise when make them, so that others don’t drift off to lala land.
Try not to interrupt anyone and be respectful of their views. Everyone has different views, and this is part of the reason why you are here to discuss them. Don’t try to dominate a meeting; contribute to the discussion.
Stick to the agenda of the meeting
Don’t waver off it and stick to the time allocated. Often people take up more time than they were allotted and it either ends up increasing the length of the meeting or leading to a rushed agreement or worse still, no positive movement forward at all.
Before you leave, you might want to set aside some time to socialise and network if there is the possibility. This is a good place to practice your communications skills with people you may not deal with every day.
Remember, a meeting is not a debating ground for opinions. It is a place to understand, evaluate and agree. So be respectful and agreeable to reach a solution.