How many business meeting do you attend every week?
I’m sure at least a few.
But are meetings largely a waste of time?
Sometimes they might seem that way.
But if you have to attend meetings, use them to your best advantage.
In fact meetings are great places to get your ‘brand’ out there. And they are great places to network and build relationships.
But they can also be places to destroy your image and for your rivals to take pot-shots at you.
So meeting-gatherings are very important occasions.
Here are some of the do’s and don’t’s to follow in meetings:
1. Arrive 10 minutes early. This highlights your impeccability and gives the impression of expectancy and aliveness.
2. Choose the top of the table if you are leading the meeting. If the table is round choose the place facing the door. This gives you command of the room.
3. If it is not your meeting then always try to sit to the right of the meeting leader (right-hand-man concept). This creates the impression of being 2nd in command. This is especially important if you are 2nd in command. Do not surrender this seat (and your power) to anyone else!
4. Always greet senior executives first. It is gracious and proper and they usually expect it. Do not expect them to greet you. – be bold and step up with confidence to take their hand. Don’t kid yourself – their is a pecking order so play the game!
5. Make yourself look ready and prepared by laying out your papers and accessories is a sharp and orderly fashion. Ensure your note pad is clean and neat and not dog-eared and scruffy.
6. If the meeting is a Board or similar meeting, dress humbly but with dignity. Bring you best pen, wear cuff links and ensure that your shoes are clean and polished. A pristine pair of shoes goes a long way. A good belt is also a great accessory – leave the belt that has tell-tale signs of the growth of your girth at home. As far as shirts are concerned, Pringle or Polo will never let you down. Trennery and Cape Union Mart are tackie and Woolworths or J-Crew are a no-no. Leave the Dunhill, Boss and Lecoste to the bigger dogs. You can get away with a mediocre suit by dumping your jacket as soon as possible.
7. ALWAYS be aware of your posture and body language. Meetings can get rough and you don’t want to give your game away by melting into your chair or letting the corner of your mouth droop to the floor.
8. Say little, listen a lot. When you do say something be sure of your facts. Do not make assumptions. Beware of falling into the trap of desperately trying to cover up your perceived lack of participation by making driven statements. You will look stupid! Rather, sit with a firm posture and a pouted mouth. Look mysterious as though you are holding onto something that no-one else knows – it works every time!
9. If you ask a difficult question to which you receive an unsatisfactory answer, ask for clarity and instruct the minute taker to include it in matters arising for the next meeting. You can do this gently but firmly. This will instill your authority.
10. If you are asked an argumentative question by a rival colleague, try and field it by saying that you will get back to him straight after the meeting. This answer is a crisp and professional response and should avoid any further niggling.
11. Treat all members with courtesy and respect. It will give you power. Avoid showing anger and stay away from being embarrassingly critical of others. Couch your responses in an engaging way rather than being confrontational. For example if the Marketing Director says that your numbers are rubbish rather say you will double check them and revert. Usually he is throwing out a red herring so don’t play his game.
12. In tea breaks get on with your networking. Remember it is not what you know nor is it who you know – it’s who knows you. Make sure you make yourself known to the people around you that matter.
13. When doing a presentation keep your slides simple and your numbers in R’000. Colour is always good and including pictures is an added bonus. Before you start your presentation, have a printed copy handed out, preferably with space to make notes. This takes the tension out of the room.
And here is the confirmation that you are probably not going to like – there is a game playing out. You either play by the rules or you will get repeatedly ‘yellow carded’. You cannot play cricket when everyone else is playing soccer!
Learn to play the game . . . . when you learn the rules, life becomes decidedly more amusing.
About the author:
Clive Kaplan, is a CA(SA) having studied at both Rhodes and UCT. With over 20 years experience as an executive director in both listed and unlisted companies. Clive offers a wealth of wisdom on both the people and business front. He is the CEO of Green Mind Capital. The company focuses on assisting executives, especially emerging young CA’s, maximize their potential and fast-track their careers. Clive has been involved with coaching and self development since 1994. Green Mind Capital is an emerging leader in the field of personal development and self-actualization.