— September 23, 2019
What’s your initial reaction when you find out you need to attend a business meeting? Do you feel excited at the idea of learning something new, or do you plan to spend the meeting daydreaming because you assume it will be boring?
Hopefully, your reaction to attending a meeting was the former and not the latter. Company meetings are a great space to get involved as an active participant. The next time you head to a business meeting, follow these tips to make your mark as a participant and thoroughly enjoy the time spent during the meeting.
1. Arrive on time.
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but you should not be late for the meeting especially if you have had substantial prior knowledge of the date and time it takes place. Arriving late to a meeting, especially an in-person event, may disrupt the presenter and distract members of the team.
If anything, try to arrive a few minutes early. This gives you enough time to pick out a seat, set up your agenda, and be ready to go when the presenter and the rest of the meeting’s members show up.
2. Take notes.
No matter how long or short the meeting is, bring along a notebook or agenda and take notes throughout the meeting. Write down key bullet points from a PowerPoint presentation, or sound bite quotes from the instructor.
This is beneficial to you and your team members. If a member of your team was absent that day, you can send them a brief summary of the notes they missed to keep everyone in the loop about what’s happening. Consider comparing and contrasting your notes with other team members that attended the meeting, too. They might have caught details you missed out on — and vice versa!
3. Be the first to ask thoughtful questions.
All active meeting participants know the importance of being able to fulfill the two items listed in this bullet.
- Be the first to ask questions. Many people shy away from being “the first” to respond when asked “Are there any questions?” More often than not, this is because it puts the spotlight on them. Not everyone is comfortable with being the first to volunteer, but an active participant will not hesitate to raise their hand. Once you have shown how easy it is to take the lead, others will feel more comfortable and begin asking questions of their own.
- Ask thoughtful questions. Another reason why people try not to volunteer to ask questions is that they fear their questions may sound silly. Worse yet, if the question has already been answered during the meeting it may come across as though the participant wasn’t paying attention. Refer back to your notes. Use them to ask thoughtful questions that elaborate on items addressed that may not have been fully answered.
4. Be confident, friendly, and polite.
When you arrive to a business meeting, leave any worries you have at the door — like upcoming assignment deadlines — and display a friendly, warm demeanor with your fellow participants. Do not arrive to the meeting rolling your eyes or openly complaining about how long it might last.
Listen carefully to what your presenter has to say. Be polite when others are speaking. Do not interrupt or dismiss their ideas in front of everyone. Display confidence and respect when asking questions. And, in certain situations, you may also laugh at the presenter’s silly puns or icebreakers that help get everyone feeling comfortable during the meeting.
Ultimately, when you do all of these items during business meetings you will develop a reputation for being an active and thoughtful participant. The greatest impact that this has on a company is that it only takes one person to get this ball rolling. Your actions are likely to inspire others to look at business meetings from a positive point of view, and shows your team how much they can learn from simply making the effort to participate.