15 Ways to Increase Your Influence in Meetings

Posted by Todd Smith

Meeting with groups of people is something we all experience. Whether it’s board meetings, business meetings, office meetings, church meetings, or small group meetings, you can do some simple things to build your personal brand and have your words carry more weight.

1.  Learn about the participants. If you are attending an important meeting where people will be present whom you have not yet met, learn about them in advance. Google their names, read their websites, review their LinkedIn profiles, or whatever options are available to you. How would you view someone who took the time to learn about you in advance?

2.  Dress appropriately. The way you appear in meetings will impact how you are viewed—both at the subconscious and conscious level. When you take pride in your appearance, people will regard you more seriously and will place more value in what you say.

3.  Come prepared. Before attending a meeting, review the agenda and come prepared for the discussion. Very few things reflect as negatively on meeting participants as when they are unprepared. If you are part of the presentation, come organized and ready to deliver your message with excellence.

4.  Arrive early. When you show up to meetings early, you will likely feel relaxed, comfortable, and in control. Rushing into a meeting at the last minute never feels good. Being there as people arrive allows you to greet and connect with each person individually. Showing an interest in people before the meeting makes them more receptive to what you share during the meeting.

5.  Pick a good seat. If appropriate, ask the meeting’s organizer where he or she would prefer you to sit. If the seating is open, put some thought into where you would want to sit. As an example, if you will be sitting at a rectangular table, sit at the end of the table. Not only will this allow you to easily see each person at the table, but the end seat is often associated with authority.

6.  Conceal your phone. Put your phone on the silent mode when entering any meeting and put it out of sight. Looking at your phone during a meeting is not only disrespectful, but it is also an indication that the meeting is not your priority.

7.  Listen with your whole body. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate your respect for others is to listen with interest. Give your full attention to the person speaking. Make 100 percent eye contact with each person as they speak, lean forward, and listen carefully to what they say.

8.  Never interrupt. When people are talking, give them the courtesy of finishing before sharing your thoughts. As you listen, don’t give any indication that you have something to say. If you do want to contribute something, wait for the speaker to finish. If everyone is jumping into the conversation, just signal to the person in charge that you have something to share, and then wait until you are called upon.

9.  Think before you speak. One of the fastest ways to lose people’s respect in meetings is to waste their time with rambling thoughts. Ask yourself, “What is the best way for my point to be easily understood using the fewest number of words possible?” People who aren’t constantly running their mouths and who are thoughtful in what they say are those who earn people’s respect.

10.  Participate. If you are part of a meeting, it’s important to be an active participant. You can’t gain influence if you aren’t contributing value. It could be asking a question, volunteering to take the lead on one of the points discussed, clarifying a point, or simply supporting an idea.

11.  Take notes. If a topic is being discussed that falls under your area of responsibility, make notes. Don’t rely on your memory. Taking notes also indicates that you understand what’s being said and are taking your responsibility seriously.

12.  Don’t be a distraction. Whispering to the person next to you, sending notes around the table, or leaving the room to use the restroom can cause a disruption of concentration for the speaker as well as the audience. It indicates to everyone that the subject being discussed is not important to you.

13.  Include everyone when talking. When you speak, make it a point to share eye contact with each member of the group. This does not mean scanning the group. It means being intentional to make sure each person feels included.

14.  Disagree respectfully. If you have a concern about something being discussed, start by asking questions to better understand the opposing point of view. If you are still concerned, share your position in a humble and respectful manner. If things don’t go your way, control your emotions and body language.

15.  Don’t check out. If you are part of a meeting and a specific agenda item doesn’t impact you, stay attentive and involved. I can scan a room and tell who’s interested in the discussion and who’s not and so can every other intelligent person in the room.

If you will follow these 15 tips at your next meeting, people’s respect and admiration for you will grow, your influence among the participants will be felt, your self-confidence will grow, and your value to the market will increase.

What tips can you share on this subject? What are the things people do that bug you at meetings? What are the characteristics of the people you respect at meetings? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below this post.

How you conduct yourself in meetings plays an important role in the influence you build within an organization.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.

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