Work meetings can be daunting at first but it’s important to learn to be confident and to get your points across.
Here’s some insight into the work meeting and a few things no one really tells you:
BEING QUIET & NERVOUS IN THE EARLY DAYS
In the beginning you’ll most likely be quiet in meetings. If you’re there with a more senior person and/or the big boss, you might not get much of a chance to speak. But take this as a learning situation. Observe what the more senior people say and do, how they talk and get things done.
Don’t beat yourself up for not saying much! By all means if you have any thoughts and opinions to share, don’t be afraid to speak up, but know that you’re normal for being more on the quiet side in the early days.
NOTE TAKING TIPS
I don’t think there’s anything that drives me more nuts than someone saying they are going to do something and then not following it up. But it’s a bad habit many fall into at work – and usually a result of failing to write something down so they simply forget.
I’ve learnt that to be super efficient you need to be really good at taking notes. It sounds obvious and simple but it never ceases to shock me how so many people don’t understand this!
For every meeting I attend (whether it’s client side or internal) I rule a margin down the page, I date it and give it a heading. Sometimes I write the names of who is present as well. Now here’s the crucial part: every time someone says they are going to do something (such as email an info doc, call up someone etc) I write it down and put their initials in the margin, including any tasks that I offer to do myself. That way there is an easy to follow list and a record of all the “to-dos”.
I know it sounds simple but the margin trick is so easy and so efficient! It actually changed my life (OTT I know, but seriously!).
Writing things down also gives the client confidence – they can see you’re paying attention and wanting to follow up on your promises.
As soon as I get back to my desk, I type up all the info and put all the to-dos into bullet point lists under each person’s name or under the relevant company names (that’s just my preferred method, otherwise you could do a table). I then email around these “action points” to everyone from the meeting. That way it’s clear and there’s no forgetting! Many companies will have a ‘minutes’ structure to follow but the margin trick should help with that too.
HAVE A VOICE
When I interviewed my boss Fleur Brown, one of the things she talked about, which really stood out for me, was the idea of having a voice at the table. When she was the youngest and only female exec present in meetings, her boss gave her some sound advice:
“[My CEO] told me that I started most of my comments around the executive table by apologising for having a point of view – for example saying “just quickly” or “sorry to jump in” which basically communicated that I didn’t feel very important and so people behaved accordingly. I wouldn’t have put you there if I didn’t think you were capable he said – you need to own the power,” Fleur told me.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t you hate that feeling when you think of something to say but hold back because you’re afraid, then five minutes later someone else says that exact point and everyone thinks it’s brilliant? To avoid that, voice your thoughts!
Here’s a video from Pantene on how women are too apologetic – we say ‘sorry’ too often rather than ‘excuse me’ #notsorry
TAKE A SEAT
In Sherl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, she talks about how women can often sit to the side of the board room, not at the table with the men, and how this really affects their presence in the meeting. If you don’t think you deserve a seat and to be totally apart of it, why is anyone else going to think differently?
“The four women had every right to be at this meeting, but because of their seating choice, they seemed like spectators rather than participants. I knew I had to say something. So after the meeting, I pulled them aside to talk. I pointed out that they should have sat at the table even without an invitation, but when publicly welcomed, they most certainly should have joined. At first, they seemed surprised, then they agreed,” writes Sheryl Sandberg in her book.
So don’t be afraid to take a seat at the table with the suits and do it proudly!
Have you ever had a scary situation in a work meeting but come out on top? And how do you like to take your notes? Please share in the comments below! x