Ah, meetings. Ostensibly a way to communicate decisions, brainstorm ideas, and keep the team running in the same direction, they are also one of the better ways to allow productivity to grind to a halt. Ideally, we’d all make the best of meetings, and avoid behaviors that waste everyone’s time and the company’s money. In reality, of course, many of us are guilty of at least one of the following:
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1. Falling in love with the sound of your own voice.
Sure, you know your stuff, and hey, you’re probably pretty hilarious, too. Meetings are not the time to perfect your nightclub act. Before you utter a word in your next meeting, ask yourself this question: “Does anyone else in this room benefit from what I have to say?” If the answer is no, skip it.
2. Being late.
This one is hard to avoid 100 percent of the time. We’re all so overbooked and overworked, it’s a rare day when we make it to every stop on our schedule in a perfectly punctual fashion. Still, being on time should be a priority. If you’re always the last one into the meeting, you’re conveying a very clear message to your co-workers, and that message is: “Your time is less important than my time.” Not a great way to start a conversation.
3. Dismissing the ideas of others.
You think you’re right, and maybe you are, but if you cut off other people every time they disagree — or want to explore other solutions to a problem — you’re going to wind up alienating your team and missing out on good ideas.
4. Having a chip on your shoulder.
“A meeting isn’t supposed to be a playground tussle,” writes John Brandon at Inc. Starting out from a defensive position will make you look weak, and prevent you from recognizing good ideas when you hear them.
If at all possible, leave your phone, tablet, laptop, etc., at your desk. If you absolutely have to bring one or more of the following, only use them for meeting-related activities. Now is not the time to scan Twitter or answer emails. Remember that multitasking is basically the art of doing a bunch of things poorly. Give the speaker your attention, and you’ll both get the most out of your time and investment.
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