Friday, 28 July 2017

Maximise Your Impact In Meetings

About 50% of the participants on my courses say that they want to be better at making an impact in meetings.

Here are 5 practical tips that will make a real difference next time you are trying to get your point across.

1. Sit Opposite The Chair
There are two places you don't want to be: (i) slightly out on a limb at one end of the table, (ii) on the same side of the table as the Chair.  Both these positions make it difficult to make an impact.  You want to sit where the Chair can easily notice you if you are trying to say something.

2. Speak Sooner
Meetings often have a habitual dynamic - at the beginning of the meeting the most extraverted or opinionated people start talking.......and carry on.  I have seen many occasions where the quieter members of a group have tried to make their presence felt, their attempts have gone unnoticed and they have given up.  If you tend to be a quieter contributor you need to establish your presence in the meeting.  You can do this by saying something innocuous early on, such as:

'I really like that idea.'

'Could you say a bit more about that?'

'Thank you, that's a very helpful suggestion.'

Each of those statements give the other person a little 'Ego Stroke' - which has the effect of making them want to look at you more, and include you in the conversation.  To maintain the contact, smile and nod at what they are saying.  Then, when you want to make a point, the other people in the meeting will be more aware of you.

3. Use Labelling
Often a quieter participant at a meeting will say something that others don't pick up on.  This can be very discouraging, but how can we make sure that our points are acknowledged?  The way to do this is to use labelling.  Here are some examples:

Your Comment/Question
Labelled Version
'I'm not sure who is taking this action forward'
'Can I ask a question?.....(Pause) 'I'm not clear who is taking this action forward'
'I think we need to take the clinical perspective into account'
'I'd like to make a point, if I may...'(Pause) 'I think we need to take the clinical perspective into account'

Labelling creates a little 'elbow room' for you in the conversation and ensures that your point is actually heard.

4. Cut Out The HRI
HRI = 'High Rising Intonation'.  It's when your voice goes up at the end of the sentence.  This gives the impression that your statement is actually a question, and can convey an air of uncertainty or a lack of conviction in what you are saying.

5. If You Know, Say So
I've noticed that some people in meetings won't express an opinion unless they are 100% confident in what they are saying. Other people seem to believe that if they are 51% sure then they can pontificate as if they were world's leading expert.  If you fall into the first group, stop withholding your expertise from the world.  If you're not 100% sure, you can say 'I'm not entirely sure about this, but I'm wondering if....'  It's important that you use a confident tone of voice while saying this, as any hesitancy will incline others to dismiss your view.