Over the years, I have been involved in hundreds of meetings for many purposes. As a young man and a junior at whatever meeting it was, I thought my role was to say what I thought, look smart, and make my points. I was almost completely unaware of the many dynamics going on in most meetings. I cringe today when I think of some of the well-intentioned, but highly counter-productive things I forced other leaders to have to deal with before I started to smarten up.
So here is my incomplete random list of things to keep in mind so you don’t become the one who is driving everyone else crazy in meetings and causing the leader to think murderous thoughts:
There is one kind of non-core, seemingly counter-productive activity that I want to recommend you do include in your meetings—adding a personal touch or a small bit of levity to a discussion. A “that is really funny to me!” or a “I love that we did that!” or a “my husband would not believe I am saying this, but…”. This shows you respect, enjoy, and appreciate the team you are working with. If you feel comfortable with the situation don’t repress this sort of thing. It lightens the meeting and helps others get to know and appreciate you. Just don’t go overboard with it.
All this is not to make you afraid of speaking up. When you have something to add to the discussion, your duty is to speak up. These simple tips are designed to help people take you more seriously and increase your effectiveness in meetings. If anyone has a time machine, please send this blog back to Darryl Stewart in about 1995. That would save some very patient leaders a lot of headaches!
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