Business meetings are an integral part of working life. They are used to develop ideas, exchange concerns, present information and make decisions. But meetings also tend to have a reputation for going off track, dragging on unnecessarily or boring attendees to distraction.
Knowing how to communicate well in meetings – especially if you are chairing the meeting – is vital for making them efficient and productive. Here are 7 ways to use your communication skills effectively in your next meeting.
1. Be on time
Nothing says that a meeting is not important more than turning up late to it. Not sticking to the allocated time schedule in a meeting also shows a lack of respect for other people's time.
Be aware of the message that you are sending.
2. Stay on topic
An agenda should be driven by action and sent to attendees in advance. If an item comes up for discussion that is not on the agenda make a note to discuss it during General Business or schedule it in for another time.
3. Voice of success
The energy in your voice can give clues to the message that you are sending.
- Are you delivering your point with confidence?
- Does your message sound positive or negative?
- How can you use your voice inflections to emphasise your point?
- What feeling is your tone of voice reflecting?
4. Word choice
Your choice of words and language in a meeting can sometimes persuade opinions to go in your favour or do the reverse. Be mindful when choosing your words and avoid language that makes assumptions or discriminates.
5. Watch your body language
Body language is just as important as verbal communication. It provides clues to your attitude and state of mind – be conscious of the message that you're sending with your body language.
- Are you slouching in your chair?
- Are you using eye contact to include everyone?
- Are your arms crossed defensively?
When you are not speaking make sure that you are practising good listening skills. Communication is a two-way process. Actively listening to your colleagues can help you to better understand and communicate with them.
7. Avoid distractions
Following the agenda and staying within the timeframe of each action point will help you to stay focused. Have water at hand to remain hydrated and put your phone away to avoid external distractions.
Good meetings require good participants and good leaders. All attendees should be prepared and ready to communicate effectively in order to make the meeting as productive and constructive as possible.
What are your tips for communicating effectively in meetings?