Meetings are an integral part of any business but none more so than the event industry. Between client, suppliers and team, we can find ourselves in several meetings a week or even a day.
I think most of us are at our peak of professionalism for client meetings. (Or at least hope we are!) We put our best selves forward, prepare diligently and follow all the niceties and etiquette of a true professional. And so we should.
But does the same hold true for meetings with our own team? Does familiarity sometimes mean we don’t hold ourselves to quite the same standards?
Meetings with colleagues are an ongoing part of our day-to-day business and tend to be more relaxed. Which is great especially if it means that the team works well together and respects each other. However as with anything that is routine it can mean we are less focused and attentive.
If a client deserves our best self, don’t our teammates deserve the same?
Here are a few things to keep in mind to help make sure you are making the best contribution possible to your team.
When you read this think about your own behavior, not others. It is always easier (and quite frankly human nature) to critique others, but be honest and see if you recognize yourself in any of the following. Here are some suggestions that will help ensure you are bringing your best self to your next event team meeting.
- Be timely. Do you notice how distracting it is when someone rushes in at the last minute or a few minutes late all in a fluster like they are the only one with a busy schedule? Don’t be one of them! Be aware of how your demeanor can impact everyone else. When you are arrive on time the message is you are organized and that this is important to you.
- Close your electronic devices! Heck we turn them off when we go to the movies in respect of other viewers (and ourselves) so why not during a meeting? Seems obvious right? It’s shocking how often common sense does not prevail! Nothing is more distracting than someone checking messages every two minutes (or seconds)…or worse trying to do it slyly so no one will notice. Who’s kidding whom? Everyone notices. (Ask anyone. This is probably the number one pet peeve at a meeting!) Have enough respect for your team to give them your undivided attention.
- Leave your baggage at the door! You don’t bring your entire workspace with you to a meeting right? Only the tools you need. Likewise leave the other kind of baggage behind as well. By this I mean theself-talk, attitudes and emotions that can sabotage effective communication; Impatience (because you really don’t think there is any need for this meeting),frustration (you could be getting twenty other things done), anxiety (you just know that budget adjustments are coming), resentment (how come I’m the only one who stayed late last night?), self-importance (you really don’t need to be here and have way more to do than everyone else),distraction (wondering what caused your car to stall this morning), self-loathing (should have taken the car in sooner), stress (deadline looming), lack of sleep, lack of lunch, lack of caffeine or insert any other number of influences to your state of mind! (It’s true isn’t it!) When you walk into a meeting, make a point of taking a deep breath and focus yourself in the present. Tell yourself that for the next hour or however long, nothing else matters and thatyou will make a difference to the outcome if you fully participate! And you will! Could you imagine if everyone consistently did the same?
- Listen. Really listen. It is said that we generally listen with the intent to answer. This means we often miss or misinterpret what is being said. We feel the need to have our response ready even before the other person is done talking. Next meeting try to listen without forming your response. It’s really hard. But if everyone did it there would be many more efficient meetings.
- Redirect irrelevant conversations for follow up. Nothing hijacks a productive meeting faster than an off-topic or overly lengthy discussion. Even worse if it’s only between a couple of people. Worse still if they are disagreeing. Here’s what to do. If you are part of the discussion…be the one that catches it and asks the others if you all could meet right after the present meeting to continue the discussion or set up another time. If it’s someone else don’t be afraid to suggest the same thing. Careful your tone isn’t dismissive. They may not even realize they’ve headed off in another direction and may appreciate getting back on track.
- Avoid sidebar conversations! Everyone does it at times (c’mon admit it!) but everyone hates it too! (It ranks right up there with checking messages as most annoying behaviour in a meeting!) It’s disrespectful not only to the person who has the floor but the entire team. If you are only speaking to one other person is the rest of the team not worthy of hearing the conversation?
- If you have to take notes at a meeting have the courtesy to pay attention and participate when needed. Find a way to abbreviate what you need to record and expand on it later. There is not much worse than someone recording their own notes, focused only on their laptop and clicking furiously the entire time…especially if they sound lost when asked a direct question. If this is you, try to figure out another way! (Try the old fashioned pen…you will feel less likely to write every word!) If you are taking notes for the entire group, ask for a pause at the end of a discussion so you can get down the important points. Better still, have someone who is not part of the discussion take the notes. Be the one to suggest this next time.
- Engage. You are part of the team for a reason. If you sit back and take on the role of observer (or don’t participate cause you are taking notes!) you are not making the contribution that everyone needs from you. It’s amazing how often folks assume that it’s everyone else’s responsibility to carry the meeting. Are you one of those?
- Be prepared. Do this with the same diligence you would for a client meeting. Don’t your fellow team members deserve the same respect? Nuff said!
- Bring a smile and a sense of humour. In fact start when you walk into the meeting room! Smile! (Don’t you hate it when someone huffs their way into a meeting and looks like they’d rather be anywhere else? Don’t be them!) Business is business and often serious but everyone needs to smile and a little levity can help even the toughest of meetings. Particularly long ones. If the air is tense, it’s amazing what a little laugh can do to relax the situation.
Checking our own behaviour can be hard. We all like to think we are doing our best (and we are!) but a little reminder every now and again never hurts!
Let this guide you toward thinking about how you can always bring your best self to your team! They deserve it!
And so do you!
Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com
As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.
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