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What a waste of time!" is generally the first reaction to the announcement of an office meeting, followed by "What are they going to discuss?"
However, not all meetings have to be this way. The next time you are called in for a review meeting or to address issues, try these tips to make the meeting a productive one:
Prepare the schedule for a meeting
If you are addressing management issues, HR policies, rules and regulations, or numbers, prepare the agenda for the meeting in advance. Invite only those people who are the key decision makers, or else you could be wasting other people's productive time.
Prepare the logistics
Once you have prepared for the meeting and the invitations have been sent, plan your day accordingly and don't be late for the meeting. In case you are stuck and cannot make it on time, make sure you inform everyone and apologise.
If you have rolling eyes, blank looks, people fidgeting with pens and glasses, consider it to be an opportunity to connect with them. The trick that would work for you will be to go with the flow and start with some brainteasers, add some humour and take control.
Give a short introduction and thank them for being there. Establish some basic rules in the beginning and request them to put their cell phones on silent or switch them off. If you don't assertively put these instructions forward, it can eat into your time.
Before you begin the actual business, make sure you set the agenda and thank the team for focussing on the same.
Encourage people to speak for themselves and share their success stories. Keep the introduction short and crisp.
Stand out in the meeting
You are perceived as a leader when you are seen as the credible source of information. So it's about the complete package.
~ Body language: Be calm and composed, dress up formally and be comfortable with your body and mind. You look a lot more approachable when you are at ease with yourself.
~ Eye contact: Reach out to your team and stay connected with your audience. Most times, strong messages are read by the way they reflect in your eyes. Remember, people listen with their eyes, not with their ears.
~ Gestures: Make use of positive gestures and do not use your index finger to point at a person, the whiteboard or the presentation.
~ Agree to disagree: If you are stating any information that is new or any idea that perhaps your team disagrees with, do not put them down. Support your point with facts and figures, and close the issue by thanking them for updating your information and helping you to influence a different perspective.
~ Motivate people and make them feel important: Be a motivator and discuss creative ideas and solutions. There are times when representatives feel situations get worse, help them come out of a problem by facilitating ideas and encouragement.
~ Be solution-oriented: You must exhibit qualities of a leader who will not only communicate and address concerns but also help people prepare strategies and solutions to produce effective results.
~ Conclude with consensus: As per the game plan, before you conclude the meeting and take commitments from the group, prepare a checklist that is in agreement with everyone. Share copies of it with everyone, specially key decision makers. Leave your audience on a high note and a positive state of mind.
Remember meetings are an opportunity to establish your thought leadership and make a lasting impact on your colleagues and other stakeholders. So prepare in advance and steal the show.
Deeksha Singh is a managing partner and head � business development at WCH Training Solutions, a New Delhi based corporate training and consulting firm. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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