You’ll find that meetings in the workplace are not few and far between. However, if implemented correctly, meetings can provide the chance to brainstorm, discuss important next steps and bring the team together for a greater cause. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In a recent survey of nearly 200 senior executives, only 17 percent reported that their meetings are a productive use of time.
Try as they might, organizations will never eliminate meetings altogether. Because of this, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make their meetings productive and valuable. It’s important to be present in every meeting and look for ways to make the most of everyone’s time. Below are a few ways you can provide value to every meeting and impress those team members who are impatiently watching the clock!
(Note: What’s work without a little play? It’s really easy to get off topic and start having fun if your coworkers are people you enjoy spending time around. As long as the work is getting done, adding a little life to the meeting makes for a better day.)
Prepare for meetings of all sizes
Big or small, a meeting is a meeting. So, coming prepared is vital to keeping it efficient and beneficial. It’s especially important early on in your career when higher level employees are involved and you need to make a good impression. If there is something you can do prior to the meeting that will help move the conversation along, think through it and write down a few talking points.
Are you walking in blind? Don’t stress! If you don’t really know what the meeting is going to be about or if it’s more of a brainstorm, I like to ask someone if there is anything I can do beforehand. Additionally, showing up with a great attitude brings just as much value as prepping with research.
Be present, listen and take notes
At any point during the day, we have some type of device attached to us. That’s okay, until it becomes a distraction. Our world revolves around notifications and it’s hard to ignore them. If you’re like me, you see a notification and you instantly go to it without hesitation. In a meeting, it’s hard to provide value when you are staring at your laptop thinking about another client or assignment.
This is designated time to talk about a designated thing, so be sure to focus on that topic and take notes. Even if nobody has asked me specifically to take notes, I make it a point to. You can provide value to your team by sending out a recap or just help yourself because you will have your notes to refer back to (I promise they’ll come in handy). I see it as, I have a million things to remember during the day and don’t want to risk forgetting something important.
Ask questions when you have them
Early in my career, I had a lot of questions. I mean A LOT of questions. I used to be self-conscious about it because I felt like I was bothering upper-level employees. Later I came to find out in my reviews with my manager that it was something that my team members liked about me.
It’s important to ask any questions you have right when you think of them. If you don’t ask then, you will all leave the meeting and be moving on to other clients or assignments and the moment will be gone. As long as the question isn’t something you can easily look up and find an answer to, go ahead and ask. Your question could spark up more conversation around ideas for the client or turn into a brainstorming session, thus providing more value.
Offer to help by taking on action items
You may find yourself in a meeting where you can’t provide much help. Don’t fret! There are ways to be a part of the conversation. If you can’t offer much insight, offer to research something or start working on a task to help the group. I like to try and make the work evenly distributed when I can among my teammates, so I always ask if there is something I can take off of a co-worker’s to-do list if I have time to spare. Ask your manager if there are any action items you can take so that you are more involved in the discussion. If it turns out there is nothing you can help with, at least you asked!
Do you think meetings are still a necessary evil? What are some things you like to do in meetings to provide value?