How many times have you gone into a meeting and not known at the end what was discussed and what the next potential action items were? I would need more than my fingers on my hand in order to get an accurate count for this. It’s hard for us sometimes to focus for hours at a time in a meeting. There is just so much to accomplish most of the time that you think of the next deadline you need to hit so your hands move to your keyboard and your mouse and you pull up Microsoft Word or Powerpoint and start working on something else. Effectively, you start to multitask.
I think that this is one of the deadliest things you can do if you really want to retain what happens in meetings. By shifting your focus on multiple other things while on a call, you have a strong tendency to not hear key things in the meeting that you could need. Small details such as a date or a proposal might be among the things you lost while you were creating tables on Excel and running reports.
I think there are a few things you need to consider when going into a meeting.
1.) Do you actually need to be there? Is it absolutely critical and a priority over everything else you have going on right now.
2.) Are you important? Are you a stakeholder in the discussion? Or are you merely an FYI type person who should hear about the details but not necessarily be a big influence on them. If the answer is the latter, consider just looking for the meeting notes that come out at the end of the meeting.
If you’ve answered these questions and determined you are a critical part to the meeting success, you should consider putting everything aside and just listening.
– Don’t answer Instant Messages from coworkers
– Don’t answer other calls. The only exception I would give to this is if someone calls you multiple times in a row and leaves a message that it is important.
– Don’t pull up any other programs on your computer
– Don’t check your email.
– Close your office door and don’t accept anyone coming in
– Try to reiterate what others are saying on the call so that you have full understanding of what is said
– Push for an action item list so that it neatly summarizes what needs to be done
If you can follow these steps you will find that you have your full focus on meetings. They will run more efficiently and you will see that people take notice of how you present yourself. You will be classified as a listener, someone who actually takes the time to hear everything and take action on it. So just remember, when you are a listener on a call, do just that… listen