Meeting Pro


We've all attended some speactacular meetings in our work lifetime. More often than not, however, meetings end up being anti-climactic, not very productive, or just an all-out fail. There's a lot that goes into making a meeting go really, really well. We'll cover that in a separate post. For now, here are the basics to check off your list before you head into your next meeting.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
Just choose wisely, and wear it well. Nothing overly fancy, that's off-putting.

No giggling.
It makes you look junior. People don’t trust gigglers. Even if it is in your nature to giggle, don’t.

Choose the right seat at the table.
Be mindful of where you sit at a large table. When there are multiple members from both sides attending, ensure you're not overloading one side. Sit in proximity to the right client folks, with clear line of sight. Also, make sure you’re sitting across the table from key team members, rather than next to, in order to make eye contact for on-the-fly riffing.

Keep your introductions short and sweet.
Keep it short and sweet. At Bluprint, we just announce ourselves as “Hi, my name is _________. I’m on the Bluprint team.” No titles. No big declarations. No admission of start date. You can toss in the stuff you’re working on, if relevant.

Maintain eye contact, even when multi-tasking.
Yes, bring your laptop. Yes, get some work done. But continue to maintain eye contact and engage in the discussion.

Own the stuff you know. And own the stuff you don’t.
Pretend to know everything. And if you don't, say you do, then offer to send a follow-up note with references and examples later (that you'll research immediately after the session). Finally, when you really absolutely don’t know, and there’s no way for you to figure it out, then state you don’t know in plain terms and offer up bringing in someone who does.

Always keep it positive.
Even when it feels like a total riot, it is your responsibility to keep the meeting on the up and up. Don’t let it devolve into idiocy or bickering or complaining about legacy problems. Be the change you want to see. There are few ocassions where you'll need to don your full-on bad cop uniform. Keep the bad cop at bay until you absolutely need it.

Push the envelope, when appropriate.
There are times when you’ll size up the room and determine you need to play it safe. There are other times that you need to push on everyone in the room to get folks thinking bigger, broader, better. Gauge the room and push when appropriate.

Get what you need.
Make sure you’re getting what you need out of the meeting. If it’s not pacing well, or people are meandering down too many tangents, reign it back in, and make sure you get what you need. Otherwise, you’ll need to announce that yet another meeting needs to be scheduled to cover the same set of topics, again.

Munawar Ahmed is a user experience consultant based in New York City. She works on S, M, L, and XL projects, from indie startups to mega-corps. She's friendly, most days. Get in touch.