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The art of mastering corporate meetings

By Maxine McBride    

If any aspect of life at the office makes workers elicit a feeling of dread, it’s the countless number of meetings theyUnited around the table must endure. Today’s businesspeople spend at least 25% of their working hours in meetings, and the higher you rise in the company, the more meetings you attend. People generally dislike meetings, but done right, meetings can be productive and even fun.

Here’s how to make the most of them—whether you are an attendee or the leader.

1. Arrive five minutes early. Get everything organized before hand, including your papers, reference materials, and technology. Say hello to each person in the room and others as they join.

2. Prepare. Preparation is the key to being a good meeting leader and participant. Give all attendees an agenda 24 hours prior to the meeting. This will allow them the time to think about the meeting’s purpose and discussion items.

3. ‘De-connect.’ It is inconsiderate to ignore the meeting while you catch up on your e-mail or play on your iPhone. If you must have a phone with you, put it on vibrate. Don’t check e-mail. Don’t text. And don’t use your phone as a clock; wear a watch. If you must take a call during a meeting, let the group know at the beginning of the meeting you have an important call that may come. Seat yourself at the door so you can leave quietly.

4. Start by ending. If you are leading the meeting, start by stating what time the meeting will end. Use the agenda to stay on track.

5. Take action. At the end of the meeting confirm tasks that need to be completed. Schedule individual or group follow-up meetings and discuss contingency plans as needed. After you leave the meeting, immediately take action and follow through on assigned tasks. If you were taking meeting notes, distribute them within 48 hours after the meeting.

6. Be aware of facial expressions. Seven universal emotions are hardwired into human beings—surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, happiness and contempt. Since your face is what most people see when you are in meetings, learn more about your facial expressions and how to work with them. If you are unable to control your facial expressions, you are an open book to others in the room.

7. Watch body language. The language of the body is another important element to master for meetings. Here are some gestures you will want to use in your next meeting to convey your thoughts physically. “Yes” gestures include open palms, forward leaning, smiling, direct body orientation, enhanced eye contact and head nodding. “No” gestures include folded arms, tapping or fidgeting, hand holding up the chin or hand over the mouth, hands on the knees, constant eye movement and squinting, shaking your head, and a scowl. “Maybe” gestures include taking a sip of a drink, biting the tip of eyeglasses, cleaning glasses, scratching of the head and chin stroking.

These are just a few suggestions for mastering the art of corporate meetings. Remember that preparation and participation are the biggest factors that will make or break your next meeting.

Maxine McBride smallMaxine McBride is the president of Clockwork Marketing Services, Inc., a full-service marketing firm She can be contacted at 904-280-7980 or at www.clockworkmarketing.com


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