Meetings may be the number-one complaint in today's workplaces. More and more people view attendance at meetings as a form of time-theft that they have to endure. This mind-set causes some to show up at meetings in person, but not in spirit. Woody Allen's often quoted words that "80 percent of success is showing up" works in reverse here—it is better not to attend a meeting at all, than to show up as a potted plant. Emotional disengagement in meetings leaks through and this is not in anyone's best interest.
Meetings are a prime opportunity to show leadership in the room. Whether a meeting is well run or not, as a participant, you can stand out from the crowd by doing your share to contribute to the success of a meeting. Here are some pointers:
Be a front-seater. Don't sit in the back of the room, waiting to make a speedy exit. Get out of the shadows and choose a seat right opposite the leader, if you can. This will increase your visibility and opportunities for engagement.
Don't be the first to leave. Stay behind, speak with the meeting leader. Offer your feedback if the meeting was helpful to you. Make a genuinely appreciative or constructive remark. Thank someone for their contributions.
Build on the ideas of others. Honor a colleague's idea by referring to it and adding your perspective. Acknowledging someone else's contribution is rarely done and is the mark of a leader.
Criticize ideas, not people. Arguing against an idea is fair game but attacking people in the process attracts negative attention. Personal attacks, especially in a meeting with others, are emotional violations. Replace statements such as "I don't follow your logic at all," with "Jim, help me understand how you arrived at this conclusion."
Make positivity your hallmark. There are those who pride themselves for playing the devil's advocate. Research shows that these individuals snuff the life out of innovation. Be the voice in the room that infuses the meeting with positivity. Leaders value those who adopt a positive stance and help others see what's right and what works, rather than focus on what's wrong. A study showed that senior executives use positive words four times as often as negative words. That's one way to genuinely boost your executive presence.