Surviving Meetings


Working at the office just isn’t complete without meetings.  It’s a brain trust of individuals, gathered in a room to share ideas, to get things done, to really make a difference!  Actually, that’s not how meetings usually turn out.  Bob is trying his best to stay awake.  Jane is working on her laptop on something that is completely unrelated.  Elizabeth is answering a phone call, and there’s the meeting organizer, with no agenda to keep the meeting on track.  There are other people on the conference bridge, but they probably hit the mute button and are doing something else.  While everyone else is not paying attention, there are a number of things you can do to stay engaged.

  • Take notes, it will help you focus and activate those two funny looking things on each side of your head.  Drawing spiral designs and squiggly lines does not qualify as note taking.  Use pen and paper to take notes. Using a laptop to type up notes during a meeting is inconsiderate as the tapping on the keys is very disruptive to others in the room, and especially to those who are listening on a conference bridge.
  • Get out there, don’t hide behind the desk.  If you’re invited to a meeting, and a dial in number is provided along with a conference room location, go to the conference room if you’re located in the building.  Get your butt out of the chair.  Even if you’re the only person there, it means a lot to the meeting holder.
  • If you’re attending the meeting via a conference bridge, don’t be a fly on the wall, always announce your presence, mute your line, and remember to unmute when you speak.
  • If someone calls your mobile phone during a meeting, decline it, or remove yourself from the room to answer it.
  • The dreaded meeting sleepiness.  Whether it be due to the most boring speaker or that super heavy lunch, If you feel that you’re starting to fall asleep during a meeting, don’t fight it in the room, it will only get worse and people will start to notice your feeble neck muscles when your head starts to bob up and down.  Instead, excuse yourself out of the meeting, take a quick walk or get a drink.  Once that wave of sleepiness passes, return to the meeting.
  • It’s simply not possible to attend all the meetings you are invited to.  You may be away, double booked, or simply just too busy with other priorities.  If that is the case, try to find someone to fill in for you, but don’t just send the person in blind,.  Give a brief description on the subject of the meeting, what’s expected, send any of the provided documents, and to return with notes.  If a representative can’t be sent, decline the meeting and provide an explanation, the other person will appreciate the small gesture.  Don’t’ forget to ask for meeting minutes.

Happy meeting!

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