Meetings are part and parcel of working life. At boardroom level they can sway, influence, and secure business deals, and in everyday management, they can be used to motivate, inspire and encourage staff.
With over 11 million meetings taking place across the world in any given working day, some managers claim to spend about 75 per cent of their working time in meetings. With those numbers, you begin to understand the importance of successfully contributing to, and managing, such an integral part of the job.
To help you on your way, we’ve compiled our top five tips for influencing and winning at meetings.
1. Come prepared – This may seem obvious, but you’ll need a notepad and a pen. But before even stepping into the room, has an agenda been sent around? Get to know the ins and outs of the agenda. Not sure on a topic? Research it. The same goes for attendees. If you’re not sure whom that name is on the attendees list, look them up, check their LinkedIn account. Knowing what you’re talking about, and who you’re talking to, will not only impress those around you, but also put you at ease. Which means you can get on with the important task of smashing that meeting.
2. Think and ALWAYS participate – You can’t influence a meeting without saying anything, but don’t take that to mean that you have to be the centre of all conversations. If you’re not familiar with a topic under discussion, that’s fine (although you should have done the prep work), take a back seat, listen and really think about how you can add to the discussion. Saying very little but making it adroit, succinct and enlightening is far better than butting in on every topic when you don’t have anything intelligent to add.
3. Pick your words carefully – This links back to the previous point but goes deeper still. A study titled Learning About Meetings discovered that the most influential and persuasive words you can use in any given meeting are: ‘Yeah’, ‘Give’ and ‘Start’. ‘Yeah’ is probably the most persuasive of all these words. It can be used to agree with someone’s point, winning you favour with this person. It can also be used to tag your idea onto a previous point. If the group has agreed on something, so too can you, and frame your next suggestion as an agreement to the previous point. This will increase its chances of being accepted. ‘Give’ may seem obvious. To give something is to put yourself in the good books of those around you. But how about this? “Given the parameters of…” can also provide common ground when putting an idea on the table. ‘Start’ is a word that allows for speedy agreement. “Let’s start with the most important points” shows your willingness to be productive as well as clearly signalling that you know the agenda inside out.
At Selhurst Park our function rooms offer the perfect setting for businesses looking to book company away days, brainstorming sessions, or internal conferences.
To give something is to put yourself in the good books of those around you.
4. Take notes – You may often see this as the role of a junior or more account based colleague but nothing makes you look more industrious and, to be frank, switched on than taking notes. You may call on these later to remember exactly what actions need to be followed through after the meeting. And what if the designated note-taker misses something? You can’t always rely on your memory. Your notes will speak exactly to what it is you need to remember around a certain subject.
5. Tie it up at the end – Take control of the end of the meeting. This will leave a good impression of you amongst your peers. Particularly if you can quickly run through all of the discussion points with clarity (this will be easier if you’ve taken good notes) and remind everyone of the outcomes and actions from the meeting. Typing up your notes and sending them round at the end should only serve to cement your position as the winner and key influencer of the meeting. Remember the notes people will refer back to will be from your perspective on the meeting.
With these five steps you should be some way onto smashing your next meeting and coming out with the results you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an interesting and well-equipped space to host your meeting in South London then you should look no further than Selhurst Park’s meeting spaces to be the setting of your glorious victory.