Meeting of the Minds

If you are working in a professional setting, I am willing to bet that meetings are an integral part of your day. Meetings with team-members, with potential clients, with current clients, and with c-suite leadership are just part of the job description. We as women need to appear in these meetings as smart, thoughtful, strategic, and willing to voice our opinion and provide essential feedback to the synergistic process. On many occasions, women allow their male counterparts to dominate meetings settings, many times because we don’t stand our ground, speak up in support of our viewpoint, or feel intimidated at the prospect of simply being wrong.

But as collaboration becomes the norm across the board, we have to learn to stand our ground and appear as the smart and intellectually gifted women we are. Sarah Cooper’s book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying, is a celebration in the hints and tips that we can all employ to control the room, be heard, and most important, shape the direction of our respective companies and projects. After reviewing this book, I was inspired to create a short list of some of the steps you can implement into meetings to really show your connected:

  1. Encourage everyone to take a step back. This helps people to consider the opinions of others, reduce arguments, and work towards finding a positive conclusion.
  2. Nod continuously while taking notes. Funny as it might seem, people respect you when they perceive you are paying attention and taking notes. This shows you are engaged and willing to follow up after the meeting with tangible actions steps.
  3. Ask questions. But not too many. Questions show you are interested in the subject matter and can almost certainly open up conversations that might otherwise go overlooked. Temper your questions and ensure you are asking a thoughtful question at the right time. You don’t want to seem as if you are trying to hard or annoy the presenter.
  4. Come prepared. On many occasions, you might already know the topic of the meeting. If so, do a little background research to show you are prepared and engaged in the overall purpose of the meeting. This can also help you move the team in the right direction or close the big client sitting in front of you.
  5. Follow up. Amazing as it might seem, so few people actually follow up with the team after a meeting. Take a day or two to fully digest and comprehend the purpose of the meeting, and then follow up with the meeting leader, potential client, or current client. This shows a genuine desire to connect and engage post meeting.

Meetings are always going to be a natural and important part of corporate America. There is simply no avoiding them. Thus, optimizing the role you play in these meetings can make a great deal of difference in your placement and the opinions others have on you. The simple yet powerful steps outlined above can separate you from the rest of the pack.

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