Tips to Improve Your Meetings by Changing Your
Executive "Meeting" Impression
I am a professional speaker, consultant, author, body language expert and national media pundit and I speak on nonverbal communication to groups of business owners, C- Suite level executives of million to over a billion dollar companies. Meetings take up a lot of our time so it makes sense to find out methods to make that time more effective.
The goal of a meeting should not just be to "get through" the agenda. The deeper goal of the meeting and the greatest benefit should be to build rapport and trust. You want everyone to feel safe and motivated to not only share their ideas and concerns in the meeting, but build alliances and relationships. You also don’t want long emails and calls from people AFTER the meeting sharing things that could have been said during the meeting. To do this, it helps to change the way you enter and start your meetings.
In my work with executives, I get immediate feedback after I finish speaking on what tips they plan on implementing that I shared. I also get emails and calls after my programs sharing what tips worked and made the biggest difference.
What follows is the list of the top tips!
- Go early - Many executives feel so rushed and overwhelmed by work that they end up arriving late to meetings. This nonverbal signal can be read by your team as a lack of respect and though late arrivers may think it may show other people how busy and important they are instead you may be perceived as unorganized, and not truly competent. Instead, go early and visit.
- Don’t come in on your cell phone - You may want to check just one more thing, but you are showing your team they are not your first priority, most important focus and you are not building the rapport and trust they need to interact effectively. This means it’s hard for them to share ideas and be honest about problems. When you look at your phone your brow furls and your eyes tighten and your face tends to be tense and your lips flatten or tighten. This facial expression can make it appear to others that you are scowling. In addition, you may bend over towards your phone and wrap your hands around it, so your heart is down and the palms of your hands are not open, this closes you off, and this cluster of cues (including the tardiness) is the OPPOSITE of warm, welcoming, respectful and credible body language. As you come in, raise up your eyes in an eyebrow flash to show you welcome others and are friendly.
- Shake hands - It’s not just a hokey ritual. Research shows that a handshake is equal to 3 hours of continual face-to-face interaction in its ability to establish rapport. It also has been shown to make you appear friendlier, more intelligent and more persuasive. Here is a link to the perfect handshake.http://www.pattiwood.net/article.asp?PageID=2490
- Turn off devices - If you come in with your phone, laptop or pad create a formal ritual where you take out your phone and say, "I am putting this on airplane mode so I can focus on you and honor and respect our time working together." If you have to use your devices during the meeting, at least, take time during the meeting where you say, "Ok now comes our tech free time that we can really focus on each other so I am turning/putting all my tech off, down and way." You can even ask others to do the same.
- Praise people and their ideas as you introduce them at the meeting - If they have accomplished something since the last meeting, or they have had a great idea, or something wonderful has happened in their personal life, praise and note it publically. Don’t speed through this step, take your time and deliver the news with warmth and enthusiasm.
- When the meeting concludes linger and talk - Don’t immediately pull out your device at the table and check it. In fact, if you can wait till you are outside the room, wait. That time in the meeting has hopefully built trust and rapport. The time at the end of the meeting can be a great opportunity to share your ideas one-on-one with a team member, or to thank someone or privately praise them. It can also be the only time other people feel safe getting your ear. Don’t rush out the door, linger and talk.