Like it or not company meetings are a big deal, and in some cases they can make or break your career. It’s important to know that it’s not just the topic or the nature of the meeting that is important when it comes to your career path, but rather it’s the way you are presented to your peers, co-workers, and top-level management.
Check out: 7 Hacks to Kill Useless Meetings
For example, if you come off as a passive onlooker who rarely offers input and never expresses their opinions or comments, you are risking giving off the impression that you’re indifferent about the matters they are discussing, or you simply don’t know what is going on.
On the other hand, if you opt to speak up at every chance, interrupt or interject quickly, dominating every discussion whether it’s a life-or-death corporate meeting or the department’s upcoming party planning committee, everyone might think you’re arrogant, or that you just enjoy being on the spotlight and hearing yourself talk.
In order to get the most out of any work meeting to boost your career, you need to find the middle ground between the two extremes. Knowing when to listen and when to speak is key, and here are tips on how to do just that.
Notice that all of the following tips serve one main purpose: C O N F I D E N C E
When it comes to speaking up, practice is the only way to do it right – especially if you’re the shy type.
Start by sparking up conversations with your colleagues over ordinary things (work or non-work related), you can also try talking to new people at work or outside of work in your everyday life. This will allow you to develop your speaking skills and knowing how people react to them. You should also try initiating the conversations as much as you can to gain the confidence needed to speak your mind when the time is right.
Alright it’s a meeting, and chances are most of the people around the table would rather be someplace else, or at least have other stuff that needs to be done. Which is why you should always get to the point, avoid using long sentences if you can avoid it.
However, if you know that you have a long point to make, make it clear from the start, and make sure people know what you are doing. An example is by stating something like “I have four comments about the issue. First…,” and start listing your points from there. This is also a good way to minimize the number of interruptions when you’re talking, as people will know that you are still not finished even if you pause in the middle.
Body language is key
The way you move can tell a lot about you in a meeting, regardless of whether you’re speaking or listening. The way you sit, the position of your hands and shoulders, your facial reactions, even the way your eyes move can give off a lot more about you than you think.
It’s pretty safe to assume that if you are hunched in your seat, speaking softly, or even fidgeting with your hands chances are you won’t be taken seriously. Instead, you need to seem like you know what you are doing.
If you are speaking then use a strong voice to project confidence. A good way to achieve this is by practicing speaking through your abdomen, by taking a deep breath and speaking from your diaphragm. This technique gives you a more powerful voice and helps you eliminate any shakiness you may have in your words.
If you are listening on the other hand, you need to show intent and focus on what the speaker is saying. Maintain eye contact when they are looking at way and let them know you are concentrating and taking in what they say seriously, and ask questions when you need to (this proves you are involved in what is being said).
Frances Cole Jones, author of "The Wow Factor: the 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World", has these tips for in-meeting body language:
- Sit up and forward
- Keep your hands on the table (People tend to trust others they can see their hands)
- Lean in
- Make eye contact with everyone around the table