The best way to go to meetings is to be prepared. No, I’m not talking about reading the agenda, doing “homework” or writing reports. I’m talking about some simple steps that will keep you in the game and save your sanity if the meeting goes bad.
I call these practices for effective meetings Carl’s Rules of Order:
Bring your own coffee
Or juice. Or water. Or whatever it is that you need to survive being trapped in enclosed spaces with people you really don’t want to be with.
I don’t care what the agenda says about coffee and treats. What if they forget the coffee? Or they have plenty of blue-packet sweetener but no yellow?
Don’t rely on someone else to provide basic sustenance for you. Be prepared
Bring a notebook
It doesn’t matter if you’re a good notetaker or not. On the off chance someone says something that you’re going to need to remember, you want to be able to write it down.
If this is so not worth your time, at least you can work on some other pressing issues. Like your grocery shopping list. Or prioritize tasks for the project you can’t work on because you’re in this meeting.
Yes, I’m writing this blog post while in a marketing prioritization meeting.
Think before you speak
This is tricky territory. Keeping quiet in hopes no one will notice you or because you’re afraid you will sound stupid is a bad strategy. It could draw attention to you because you’re not contributing or someone will think you’re stupid.
Then again, speaking could be interpreted as volunteering for a project you can’t fit into your schdule. The best way to fix that is to follow up with the task assigner after the meeting and see what you can rearrange to make things work.
Practice your phoney skills
I call this the nuclear option. Only to be used when all else fails. This is tricky because I don’t know what the culture is in your company regarding cell phones in meetings. Generally, no one wants to be interrupted by a ringtone based upon music from your formative years. But can you use a “phone call” to get out of the meeting?
Thanks to vibrate mode, you don’t need to schedule an incoming fake call. Act surprised at something only you can feel and fish your phone out of your pocket. This is where rehearsal comes in handy.
- Keep your one way conversation simple and terse.
- Silently say “Sorry” to the rest of the room.
- Purposefully exit while asking “the caller” to hold on for a couple of seconds.
- Come up with a good excuse.
These are my rules of order — let me know yours in the comments.
(Image courtesy of Office Now under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license.)
Popular search terms for this article: