Personally, I’m not an overly talkative person. I believe that all words have meaning, and must be purposefully used. In addition, when it comes to listening, I focus on what’s said and the person saying it. The goal for any conversation I have is to not be personally biased and to cleanly communicate. Unfortunately, not everyone is like that and my approach is easily misinterpreted by others.
While this can be frustrating, I have been able to figure out different ways that can make me more effective in meetings. Through trial and error over the years, and learning to deal with how people respond to certain things, my methods have been properly ironed out. Which is why I’m going to share them with you.
Lead With Facts, Never Feelings
Human nature is to have emotions, it’s completely natural. However, as we grow and mature, we learn that emotions are healthy reactions that need to be restrained. On initial reading, this may be easily interpreted as controlling your anger so that you don’t physically or verbally hurt someone. This is true, but it is only one aspect of the point made.
Bluntly speaking, people that communicate emotions first aren’t respected and their viewpoints are mostly dismissed. That is because reason without logic is pointless, and only is viewed as an unneeded filler in the conversation.
Group conversations are never easy. Being able to properly express your thought, while also making sure everyone isn’t talking over each other is just problematic. Add in people being people, most don’t respond well to being interrupted or someone talking over them. So what do you do? Well, for me, I learned how to tactfully interrupt.
By this, I’m referring to politely interjecting when the person speaking takes a pause. Using phrases like, “Not to interrupt, but…” or “Before we continue or change topics…..”, will come off as nice ways to break away from the speaker and get your point across.
I cannot tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where the first part of the meeting is catching everyone up on the topic. So easily, putting yourself in the position of already knowing the topic beforehand, and coming in with points of validation or contention, gives you a stronger appearance with whom you’re speaking.
Keep Things On Track
This has to be the most critical, yet outrageously underrated, meeting skills I could illustrate. Any conversation you could ever be a part of will more than likely get sidetracked or stuck on a very small point. In fact, more than likely, all your meetings time are probably eaten up by things like this that call for constant follow-ups and async dialogs.
This is never a good thing! Nobody likes wasting time, let alone having to have follow-ups just to waste more time. When this happens in meetings it can seemingly come off as there isn’t much anyone can do since the people involved are so tied into it. In actuality, you can!
By simply interjecting with, “While this a great discussion, we’re grossly off-topic and should get back on track.” Simple, clean, and respectful.
Meetings are never fun, and most of the time get us nowhere. However, if you come in with the intent to streamline and accomplish the task at hand, they can be productive. So going forward, please take advantage of the techniques I’ve developed throughout my career to your advantage.