How to Look Smart During a Meeting

I gave a workshop recently to a group of parent volunteers on the topic of meeting management. We discussed the many ways to engage all participants, shorten meeting times (as I've written about here) and generally make meetings less painful for participants.  

Here's the thing- most folks are clueless about how their own behavior is perceived by others in meetings.  This is a problem when you consider how much time we spend in meetings.  I suggest we use meetings to not only get work done but also to build professional rapport with our colleagues.

What are some behaviors that are off-limits during meetings?  How about the following:

  • Yawning
  • Sighing
  • Slumping in your chair
  • Arriving late
  • Checking your phone
  • Doing email
  • Staring off into the distance 
  • Being rude or disinterested to others in the meeting
  • Asking off-putting questions (E.g. "When do I get a raise?")

Each of these behaviors can lead those around us to perceive us as lazy, bored, unprofessional or worst of all- incompetent.  

To contrast these off-limits behaviors, let's put on the table some things that you can do that will truly make you look smarter and build rapport with those around you.  These include but aren't limited to the following:

  • Arriving early
  • Taking notes
  • Silencing your phone
  • Looking interested
  • Sitting upright
  • Making visual contact with others in the meeting
  • Asking smart questions at the right time

Meetings are here to stay.  Let's choose to make the most out of them and look smart in the process.  

Photo courtesy of FDP