As a student, you have probably attended many meetings, especially if you have participated in group projects. When you are working at a co-op, there is a likely chance that you will participate in many meetings with staff, customers or both. Knowing how to have a positive impact in a meeting will help your career as a student as well as a post-graduation professional.
GOALS – Meetings are supposed to accomplish a few things, specifically:
Share ideas, facts, figures, drawings
Brainstorm ways to solve a problem
Assign and/or complete tasks as part of a project or plan
Create a strategy and timeline for a project
Introduce new staff
Teach new skills or provide information to meeting participants
EXPECTATIONS – Meetings should have an agenda and be led by one or two people. As a participant, you have specific duties that are usually never communicated explicitly. They are:
Be prepared to participate. Read the agenda before the meeting, if it has been made available. Read any materials that will be discussed in the meeting
Turn off your cell phone and leave it face down on the table
W.A.I.T. Ask yourself “Why Am I Talking”? – There is usually a lot of discussion during a meeting and you may want to have your voice heard. So WAIT!
Are you making meaningful contributions to the conversation?
Are you speaking to complain? To brag? If the answer is “yes” to either, then don’t speak at all.
Are you moving the conversation forward?
Is your comment applicable to most people at the meeting?
Think about what you are going to say before you say it. What is your personal agenda? Why are you sharing your thoughts?
Refrain from speaking if you are regurgitating something that was already said. If you can provide further information to show the merit of a discussion point, do so.
Be clear. Be concise. Be strategic. Don’t speak just for the sake of speaking.
Don’t mumble, speak clearly so everyone can hear you.
MOVING FORWARD – Determine if there are deliverables that you are responsible to produce before the next meeting. If there are, be sure to share them with the participants before you next meet.
Following these suggestions will help you to become a valuable member of any team and will reduce the amount of time you and your peers spend at meetings.