Get More Visibility in Meetings

Meetings with people outside of your immediate group provide a terrific opportunity to get visibility. Attendees from other departments and at various levels of management can hear your ideas and become aware of your expertise. Every time you offer useful information that people can take away and apply to their own work, you boost your reputation as a valuable contributor to the company.

The trick, of course, is to know when and how to participate in a meeting. This can be particularly challenging if you are not normally talkative or are reluctant to speak in large groups. You may also run into obstacles such as time constraints, poor meeting facilitation, or overly vocal participants who dominate the discussion. Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to make meeting participation less daunting and more rewarding.

Prior to the meeting:

  • Familiarize yourself with the agenda
  • Think specifically of how your work relates to the items planned for discussion
  • Identify a couple of key ideas or suggestions that you will contribute
  • Formulate questions you might want to ask
  • Be ready to provide concise updates on your work
  • Write brief notes on what you want to say and take them to the meeting

During the meeting:

  • Remember that sharing your ideas will benefit the group and make the the meeting more productive
  • Indicate involvement in the discussion through your body language: lean forward, make eye contact with other speakers, look interested, nod occasionally when you agree. (This can also help you feel more confident.)
  • Listen carefully so that you can comment on what is being said and add relevant information
  • Take advantage of pauses in the discussion to insert your ideas
  • Refer to your notes to keep your thoughts in focus
  • Keep your comments brief and to the point
  • Begin your statements with phrases that link your information to what someone else has said:
 

"That's a good point, Linda, and.. "
"I think Frank is on the right track because..."
"There's another issue I think we need to talk about here..."
"That relates to what I've been finding in..."

  • If you miss a chance to speak because the discussion moves in a different direction, make a note of what you wanted to say and see if you can find an opening to contribute it later. You can begin with:
 

"If we could go back to (point X) for a minute,..."
"Before we move on, I'd like to add a comment about..."

To get in the habit of expressing yourself in a group, make conscious use of the more relaxed environment of regular team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Focus on speaking clearly and getting to the point. Take advantage of the opportunity to try out a few of the tips listed above. While there are certainly other ways to gain visibility, your willingness to actively participate in meetings makes a positive impression that will pay dividends for your career.