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..."
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,..."
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.