I hate meetings. I really do. So if I have to attend a meeting, I want it to be productive. Over the years I’ve actually fired employees who couldn’t control themselves during meetings (I’ll explain later). So if you’re on my team and attending a client meeting, branding meeting, project meeting or any other kind of meeting with me, you have to know what I expect. Here’s a list of things I want my people to know during a meeting, and the list might be worth sharing with your team as well:
1) Listen. Nothing is more important in a meeting than simply listening. Too many people in meetings aren’t really listening, they’re just thinking of the next thing to say. That never works, because if you haven’t been listening, whatever you say will be wrong or inappropriate. One of the people I fired couldn’t keep his mouth shut during client meetings. He was a brand new employee, and knew nothing about the client or problem we were discussing. But he kept interrupting the meeting with his ideas – none of which were relevant to the problem. Over and over I asked him to control himself, but he simply couldn’t help it. So I had to let him go.
2) If an idea pops into your head, write it down first. Never blurt out that brilliant revelation you just received. Jot it down first, and then see when it would be appropriate to interject into the conversation. Far too often, the idea that just hit you isn’t what we’re actually discussing at the moment. (Plus, writing it down gives you a minute to decide if it’s worth sharing at all.)
3) Don’t tell us about your life story, the dream project you’re working on, or some new insight you recently read about. Above all, don’t preach. Honor the people in the room and focus on the task at hand. You don’t need to constantly remind us that you’re an important part of the meeting.
4) Do your homework. Nothing is more embarrassing than tossing out an idea that’s already been tried or already failed. Learn about the client or project before walking in the room. And if you don’t know, then lean over and whisper it to a colleague first. Make sure that what you contribute is something new and worth their time. Never walk into a meeting blind.
5) Stop interrupting! Nothing anyone has to say is so important that it’s worth interrupting. Just bide your time, and speak when it’s appropriate. When you interrupt someone, you’re telling everyone in the meeting that his or her comment isn’t worth listening to, and that you’re much more important.
6) Finally, never dominate the meeting. Keep your comments short and to the point. As you talk, watch the reactions of other people in the room. Are they listening? Are they interested? Or have they tuned you out? Cut to the chase. As my pastor father once described “popcorn testimonies” in church: “Pop up, pop off, then pop right back down.” That’s good advice for meetings.
Any good advice for meeting behavior I’ve left out?