Today's Professional

Today's Professional

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Developing Your Personal Brand: Meetings

tips for meetings

These are the most productive times, these are the least productive times. I have mixed feelings about meetings. On one hand, they serve as an opportunity to share ideas, resolve issues, and develop strategies as a team. On the other hand they serve as the most opportune time to hear one's own voice. This post looks at how to develop your personal brand as a meetings wizard.

1. Time Management

How you manage your time and the time of others during a meeting says a lot about your personal brand. Do you find yourself ranting, or not speaking up when someone else is ranting? If this is the case, it may serve your personal brand to ask yourself, am I carrying on? If you are one of those who tends to step on the soapbox, maybe it is time to reconsider your approach to meetings. When you carry on about a topic chances are you have lost your audience's attention. Even worse, you are wasting their time to be productive. The same holds true if you do not politely interrupt others who carry on. One way to do this is, "Jim, I can tell you feel strong about this topic, maybe we should talk about this further after the meeting."

When you call a meeting, try to keep it in the 15 minutes time frame. If it takes longer than this, chances are the topics are too broad, there is carrying on, and you are wasting your time and the time of your colleagues. There are of course times when meetings will last longer than 15 minutes, but if you make an effort to manage the time of the meeting, your topics and the information you share will "stick" better with the participants.

2. Remember What You Said Last Meeting  

So you practice stellar time management skills, great. This means that chances are what you say gets heard. If that is the case, remember what you say. The last thing you want is to confuse your colleagues, especially your subordinates, on your objectives and feelings on certain topics. 

Generally the purpose of a meeting is, or at least should be, to set out action items. If you meeting with your team and say, "ok, it is settled. Bill, you will begin the Great Get Business Imitative with expanding the product line. Start getting the great business Bill!" Then, a month later, Bill says, "Ok, we can improve the Great Get Business Initiative by offering 2 new product lines." Then you say you don't like the idea of expanding the product line, which everyone remembers getting your approval on. You are going to confuse your team, lose their trust, and ultimately knock your objectives off track.

Forgetting what you say is costly in many ways. First, in our example, Bill obviously put time and energy into Great Get Business Initiative, this time and energy cost the company greatly if this is what Bill has been working on. Next, the confusion factor. Forgetting what you say leads to confusion on direction. Employees love direction, more so than they will ever say. Security in knowing your efforts are in line with organizational objectives, is a great feeling. 

3. Don't Interrupt or High-jack the Meeting 

When someone is talking, don't interrupt them, unless they have high-jacked the meeting and are ranting. This is pretty simple concept. Even if you have the best point in the world, when you interrupt someone they stop listening. 

High-jacking a meeting for your own cause is also a poor practice. If the meeting has been called to discuss current accounts, don't change the topic to product development. Stay on topic and make sure others do as well.

4. Don't Have Meetings Unless it is Necessary

Holding meetings just to hold meetings drives me crazy. If the objective of the meeting is no meant to resolve an issue, develop an action plan, or discuss results, why have the meeting? In my experience as a restaurant manager (both in the fast food industry and the fine dining industry) I had a rule I followed. I never yelled or got mad at anyone, even for the dumbest mistakes, unless I absolutely had to. I called it "my yelling arsenal." I looked at it this way, if I yell or was angry all the time, each time I yell or get angry I take from my arsenal. Eventually my arsenal would run out and it would not matter how angry I was. Then end result, when I got upset, I got results. 

The arsenal principle holds true for meetings. If you have a meeting a day, then the value of those meetings will run out. If you have a lot of meetings with out results, the value meetings you call will be depleted.


Meetings serve a purpose in business. Make sure you are sending the right message when you participate. The more valuable you are as a participant, the more valuable you are to the organization.


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