Whatever size company you work within, meetings can be crucial to the effectiveness of the business -but only if you speak up and ensure that your input is heard.
So if you find yourself taking a back seat in meetings,you can take action – both for the good of the business and for your profile.
Here are some ideas how:
1. Be selective
Know when best to contribute as well as how best to contribute. Have a sense of timing to ensure you contribute without being disruptive.
2. Be concise
Teams that work well tend to share the distribution of airtime with no one person dominating more than another. A big contributor to this efficiency is the ability to ‘get in’ to the conversation, say what you need to say and then ‘get out’.
Being mindful of your personal style and the levels of participation across the group are fundamental to improving your performance and the success of the group.
If you don’t have anything to add to the subject under discussion, you can help the entire meeting by summarising key points at regular intervals.
To summarise accurately you have to be a good listener and be attending to the contributions of others rather than focussing on your own agenda.
A behaviour label is a device which announces the behaviour that you’re going to use next. For example: ‘Can I just ask a question?’, followed by a question, or ‘I’d like to add some information here’, followed by giving information, etc.
Labelling helps to command attention and it create space for you to say your piece.
5. Shutting Out
Sometimes, to get into a conversation you have to steal the airtime from another person. This is a behaviour known as Shutting Out. If you’re reluctant to speak out in a meeting your attempts at using this behaviour will likely be ineffective.
One way to claim airtime is giving a non-verbal indication that you want to get in to the discussion. You can lean forward, indicate with your hand, nod with your head and/or make eye contact with the speaker or the chairperson in a way that communicates ‘I have something to say’.
This is a behaviour used by the most skilful individuals. Building behaviour is defined as ‘adding to or modifying a proposal or suggestion made by another person’. In a meeting this might sound like.
Proposal: I’d like to spend some time looking at those figures
Build: Maybe we could get Sam to talk you through them
Summarising, building relies on your ability to listen. Done authentically, Building also demonstrates that your interest lies with the people generating the ideas, rather than competing with your own ideas.
Reacting behaviours are the way we let other people know how we respond to what they have said. The two most common reacting behaviours are Supporting and Disagreeing.
8. Ask questions
If there was one mantra I would like to resonate around the walls of corporate meeting rooms, it’s this: Give less, Ask more, Ask better. The intent is to help you build your interactions around inquiry.
Being curious rather than judgmental is one of the most powerful ways to ensure you are heard and to build the relationships that will help you towards success. Questions also help to provide clarity in the meeting, ensuring people leave with the same level of understanding.
Building awareness of these tactics and taking opportunities to practice should mean you are heard in meetings; to the good of yourself and your organisation.