Whether they’re scheduled on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, almost all careers require at least some meetings every now and then. When acting purely as an attendee, it’s important to be engaged, participatory, and interested in the topics discussed. However, when you’re leading meetings, there are a few more responsibilities to keep in mind. The following examples are some things to keep in mind, and avoid, for the next meeting you run.
Don’t wing it
Olympic swimmer and champion Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” Walking into a meeting with no game plan could make you appear disorganized and uninterested in your topics of discussion. And, your teammates will feel like you don’t value their time.
Having some notes, points to highlight, and questions to ask is important to have beforehand. But should your meeting go in a different yet productive direction than you initially planned, go with the flow. Those in the meeting will be able to tell the difference between zero planning and necessary spontaneity that often comes with interactive meetings.
There is such a thing as over-sharing in the meeting world. While you may have the best intentions at heart, telling your teammates every detail, thought, and plan is often unnecessary and boring.
During your preparation stages, establish the highlights of each topic. Make note of what is most relevant, interesting, and important for your audience to know and leave out all the extra details. If you’re worried you may have missed something, feel free to ask if anyone has questions when all is said and done. The majority of the time, if an audience member needs clarification or further instructions, they will ask you during or after the meeting.
Don’t get distracted
Answering a phone call, text, or email during a meeting may at times be an utter necessity, but the majority of the time, it’s just plain rude. Your audience will see your communication with others as a distraction and lack of commitment to your presentation. Make it a priority to silence your cell phone, put it away, and ignore it until the meeting has concluded.
If for some reason you are expecting a call during a meeting (i.e.: you have a sick relative or are expecting a call from upper management) explain to your audience beforehand that you may need to step out for a moment but will return promptly. Your teammates will be much more understanding of your distraction if they know it’s for good reason.
Don’t run late
Be aware and respectful of your teammates’ time. If your meeting has a specified time restriction, honor it. Those in the meeting will be appreciative that you respect their time and, will in turn, respect what you have to say. Sometimes running a few minutes over is unavoidable, but consistently holding your audience late is disrespectful of their time and other job duties. Realize that although your topics of discussion may be important and relevant, there are other tasks your audience needs to work on throughout the day too.
Don’t disregard common courtesy
Eating during a meeting is not only disrespectful, but off-putting. If you are in a boardroom setting with nine teammates and decide to open a bag of chips while delivering a message, it becomes a distraction and not very pretty to watch. Of course, some meetings occur over breakfast and lunch where eating is, obviously encouraged, but for the majority of the time, it’s best to eat while on your lunch break.
If your meeting is expected to take up the majority of the day, coordinate snacks or meals for everyone in attendance, with specified break times allotted in the agenda. The only thing worse than watching someone eat is watching someone eat when you’re hungry. This simple gesture will show your teammates you have their best interests at heart.
Meetings are an everyday occurrence in the business world, no matter what your field. And most likely, you will all have to participate in them in some capacity. Keeping the preceding five tips in mind will help you deliver a message without distraction, offending your audience, or embarrassing yourself.