Are we losing the ability to connect when we are in face-to-face situations? Are we…
9 Steps to Get What You Want Out of a Meeting…Every Time
Communication. It’s something that can make or break our lives – both personally and professionally. As well as the obvious verbal form, communication carries with it a number of other elements including interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and social awareness.
Being an effective communicator is a valued asset in everyday life and particularly in the professional space as it improves efficiency and productivity, and helps to build strong and effective relationships.
As Small Business owners our time is extremely precious, and I’m sure you’ll all agree that nothing is more irritating than when you leave a meeting feeling like you didn’t get what you wanted out of it, having carved out specific space for it in your diary.
At the beginning of my business career, I found this was happening quite a lot, so I decided to create some ground rules to ensure my interactions would more regularly result in a win/win for both parties, rather than frustration and time wasting.
There are a few best and fail-safe practices when it comes to communication in meetings. Many of these principles can be used in our personal lives too.
1. Always be punctual.
Nothing shows disrespect for the value of a meeting, or another’s time by being late. If you anticipate that you will be late, always let the relevant people know. Being punctual also refers to respecting the length of the allocated time of the meeting and not being responsible for it running unnecessarily late. It’s about respecting other people’s time and in turn communicating that you respect them.
2. Know your outcome.
Go into the meeting with a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. Is it just a relationship building exercise? Do you need to work through an issue or create a strategy? Are you planning on selling to them? Can you see how each of these would require very different interactions and ways of communicating?
3. Communicate your desired outcome(s).
It helps to have an agenda sent out to attendees in advance so that they can be aware of the topic matter. Once you have had the obligatory small talk after arriving pre-frame your intentions and what you want to get out of the meeting and allow the other attendees to do the same. Ensure everyone is clear and on the same page before you proceed any further.
4. Stay on Topic.
Staying on topic makes the meeting more efficient and means that particular subjects can be given their due attention and resolution. If you have something that you’d like to discuss, choose an opportune time (that’s in line with the agenda) to bring this up or plan to set up a different meeting.
5. Voice of Success.
Pay careful attention to your voice, your tone and your volume. The energy in your voice will give your audience clues around the message that you are communicating. Is your voice confident? Arrogant? Doubtful? Positive or negative? Is your tone reflecting what you are intending?
6. Words and Language.
Your choice of words and language can have a powerful influence over others agreeing with your points or the reverse. Choose your words and language carefully, to ensure that they don’t undermine your ideas or suggestions. Avoid any language that makes assumptions, discriminates, blames or whinges. It’s important to keep language proactive, constructive and positively geared towards improvement.
7. Body language.
Non-verbal cues and messages can be just as powerful as verbal. It indicates your state of mind, attitude and thought processes towards a situation or person. Be conscious of your body language and that of others too – this may ‘give away’ their true feelings and allow you to respond accordingly. For example, if they start to sit back in their chair and look around it may indicate they are bored so you can talk to them directly to re-engage them, or if someone folds their arms and starts to hunch their shoulders over it may mean they are annoyed so you can give them an opportunity to contribute and offer their point of view.
8. Actively listen.
The act of listening is a simple concept however it is not always easy when it comes to heated discussions or disagreements. Don’t feel that you always need to have the first or last word… there’s sometimes much to be gained through simply listening to others before making a more insightful (and informed) input of your own. Listening will help you to understand better those around you, which in turn will guide you on how best to handle dealings and communications with them.
9. Remove distractions.
Put your phone away, remove any distracting screens that aren’t relevant to the meeting and make sure you harness your attention to the room rather than looking around the room or outside the window. Maintaining eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to keep someone engaged and interested.
Much of effective communication comes down to respecting those around you – in terms of their opinion, presence and time. Now go forth and ‘meet’ like a pro!
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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