Meetings can be a great opportunity to sit down and talk to staff, managers, clients and colleagues that you may not usually have time to. Some meetings might be a group discussion and some might be mostly full of reports, but in any case you should know how to make a strong and lasting impact on the other people there.
1. What makes a positive impact?
The first step is understanding what makes a positive contribution in a meeting. The aim is to get your voice heard and your points considered by those present. However, if you start talking just for the sake of it, you risk being seen as annoying or a time waster. Instead, make sure that your points are carefully considered and worthwhile.
You also want to think about when to speak so that you can get your voice heard over more senior or more talkative people around the table, but being mindful not to interrupt or be considered too pushy.
2. Prepare for the meeting
Before even walking into the meeting, you should have a good idea about what is going to be discussed and how you can contribute to it.
Always read through the agenda and any attached documents in advance. This will give you time to think about the topics, research anything you may want to familiarise yourself with and consider any points you want to make. Writing notes may help you to remember what you want to say, which you can refer to in the meeting itself. This is especially useful if you are not feeling so confident or are afraid you will forget your points.
3. Make a strong start
It is always a good idea to arrive at a meeting early. This lets you find the best spot to sit, and you can start chatting and building a rapport with other attendees. It will be a lot less intimidating to speak up if you have already broken the ice.
Additionally, the longer you leave it to raise your voice in a meeting, the harder you will find it. Look for a good moment early on in the meeting to speak. This can show that you are focused, assertive and lets everyone know that you are present – both physically and mentally. Make sure you are also aware of your body language. Leaning forwards to listen to someone shows your interest and that you want to be involved in what they are saying. People appreciate people who listen to them, and they should be more willing to listen to you in return.
4. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything
No one is an expert at everything, and one day you are bound to end up in a meeting discussing something you know nothing about.
Rather than trying to offer points for discussion, ask questions. This still shows interest and assertiveness, and shows that you are willing to learn in order to be more involved in the future.
You can also offer support to other attendees’ points. Even if you are not an expert, you can still say when you think something has been a good idea or if you think your knowledge of something else could be useful.
See some of our other solutions for making an impact here