Have you ever slept through a business meeting? I once had a co-worker who spent most of his time playing Candy Crush during official meetings—does that sound like anyone you know?
For most of us, business meetings are a necessary evil—boring as sin, yet absolutely required if we want to get anywhere in the career ladder. And just because you’re not the main speaker, does not mean that you have the right (no matter how tempting) to fall asleep or play video games during a meeting.
In fact, experts say that your performance—or lack of it—as a listener and participant in a meeting can make or break your career. And what’s the easiest way to showcase your skills? Simple. By speaking up during meetings.
Yes, it can be quite terrifying—imagine all your co-workers and bosses looking at you and judging you as you speak—but it can easily be done with the help of the following tips:
1. Stay positive.
When speaking up during a meeting, be optimistic. Highlight the good points of a presentation, no matter how boring. And if you have criticism, say it in a constructive way and offer possible solutions. Being upbeat and energetic can infect the whole group and perk up an otherwise dreary meeting.
2. Be inclusive.
When speaking, talk to everybody. Roam your eyes around the room and make eye contact with people as you make a point. This way, nobody will feel left-out and will be more encouraged to participate as well.
3. Welcome feedback.
No matter if it’s positive or negative, feedback is important. It shows that people have been listening to what you’re saying and are interested enough to share their own views. Encourage others to voice out their opinions by asking questions and inviting comments. If you see somebody actively nodding along or knitting their brow in concentration, you might want to call them by name and ask them to share what they think.
4. Be consistent.
If the meeting has a serious tone, try your best to stay within a similar tone. It can be quite tempting to break the ice with a casual joke or two, but if your audience is made up of business executives intent on fixing a recurring problem, cracking jokes can make you seem lightweight and shallow.
5. Keep it short and sweet.
Nobody likes a time-hog. No matter how valid your points are, you will lose the interest of the group if you go on rambling for too long. Give enough details but don’t overwhelm them—be concise and straight to the point. Everybody will thank you for it.
6. Cut the clichés.
Resist using worn-out clichés and rhetoric. It will only confuse your listeners and make it seem as if you don’t really know what you are talking about. If you must, use only positive rhetoric and even then, keep it to a minimum.
7. Explore other venues.
You may think it’s convenient to air all of your views and concerns when all of your bosses and co-workers are gathered together in a single room. However, doing that can actually be destructive. Learn to recognize that other things can be discussed at another time—let go for now.
8. Mind your body.
Body language is an important part of public speaking—make sure that your facial expressions and hand gestures mirror the message that you are trying to say. Be more open and inviting by using positive gestures like nodding or smiling.
Do you think these tips can help you participate more during meetings? Tell me your thoughts.