Meetings. They’re not just a chance to show off in the board room like on The Apprentice. They’re actually a really important part of working life at most companies. And no matter what Career Zone you’re interested in, you’ll probably have to attend your fair share of meetings when you start work.
But knowing how to run a meeting is tricky. Staff like to grumble that they’re a waste of time and don’t have enough structure. So in this guide we’ll give you 8 tips for successful meetings. We’ll cover what makes a good meeting, good meeting topics, and lots more! You’ll be ready for your first team get-together in no time.
'8 top tips to ace your first work meeting'
1. Set some goals
This is important whether you’re thinking about how to run a meeting or whether you’re participating as a staff member. Make a list of goals that you’d like to achieve by the time the meeting is over. Do you have any questions for your team? Would you like to share some ideas with them? How are you doing on your most recent project? These all make for good meeting topics. As the meeting is happening, make sure to check your list from time to time. By the end of the team meet-up, you should have checked off all the items on your goal list.
2. Master the basics
Sounds obvious, but make sure you’ve got all the logistics sorted for your meeting. Where exactly is it being held? What room? Do you have contact details in case anything goes wrong? Make a checklist of materials and resources you might need for the meeting – at the very least you’ll need a notebook and pen, as well as a copy of the meeting’s “agenda” – that is a list of all the topics that are going to be discussed.
3. Get involved
No matter what role you have in your company, it’s important that you make a contribution to each meeting, even if it’s just sharing a quick idea or voicing an opinion about someone else’s work. Good meeting topics should encourage discussion. This will show employers your enthusiasm, and that you can take initiative.
4. Get to the point
When you’re contributing to the meeting by presenting an idea or updating your team on what you’ve been working on, make sure you express yourself as efficiently and succinctly as possible. Focus on exactly what you’d like to get across and explain it in a few clear sentences. If you think someone might interrupt before you’re finished, you can start by saying “I have three points to make here…” and then invite your team members to ask questions afterwards. This is a great way to build your communication skills, one of the key skills employers are looking for!
We know it’s easier said than done to speak up in meetings, and that nerves can get the better of you. But practice really does make perfect when it comes to contributing – especially if you’re naturally an introvert or a bit shy. Boost your confidence by practicing with friends or family. Make sure to voice your opinion or start a debate on a topic you care about. You’ll find that it gets a little easier each time you do it – and you can put these skills and confidence to good use at the next work meeting.
6. Consider your body language
When you’re speaking up at your next work meeting, take a minute or two to consider your body language. If you’re slouching, hunched over or speaking too quietly, people won’t properly focus on what you’re saying or take you seriously. You might be doing some of these postures or gestures without noticing, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to your body language. Some tips for positive body language during meetings are:
- Sit up straight.
- Keep your hands on the table when you speak (this sub-consciously sends a message that people can trust what you’re saying).
- Make eye contact with everyone in the room, if possible.
7. Make sure you stay on topic
Whether you’re the one organising the meeting or not, one of the most important tips for successful meetings is to stay on topic. Far too often, staff will end up rambling and straying from the point at hand. That’s where some serious time gets wasted! Good team meetings mean that you and your team focus on the topic or project at hand without getting distracted by other ideas or points. You can do this by politely bringing the conversation back to the topic at hand.
8. Take notes
Active listening is important during meetings – and taking good notes is one way to make sure you’re really hearing everything that your colleagues are saying. Taking notes during good team meetings is also a key way to show respect for others. By doing this you’ll also end up with a list of tasks or points to follow up on.
To see more tips on the workplace, visit our Working Life advice section.