My Sponsors

Friday, April 17, 2009

Your Body Language During Attending Meeting

At some time we all attend meetings, whether this is work related, more of a social nature or a combination of both. For example you may be on the Parent Teacher Association of a school, or on a charitable fundraising committee. Making an impression at meetings could help you to be heard in that meeting, or you may wish to read others’ body language to find out what they really think about your views.

First, where to sit

In meetings if you want recognition always sit within good eye contact of the decision maker (who may not always be the chair). This can often be at the opposite end of the table. To lessen confrontation sit next to the challenger. It is far more difficult to attack from the side. Avoid sitting directly opposite the person.

If you are a junior or new participant wait to be told where to sit.

If you wish to avoid attention sit in a blind spot for the chair where it is physically difficult for them to see you and wear your most neutral outfit with no special accessories.

Another point about seating which I have often observed is that when both men and women enter a room together, the men will all sit together and the women will sit together. Only if someone is late and there are no empty spaces will the genders divide. In schools and sometimes at work it is a good idea to mix the genders to encourage more cross-gender communication and cooperation. For example, ask all the girls to come into the class first and tell them they must not sit together, then invite the boys to fill up the empty places.

Other ways to enhance your power at meetings

Make sure you find out the objectives of the chairperson if you can. Don’t be afraid to contribute your points but if you’re out to win or score points only important to you, you may become resented. Never expect to succeed in a meeting on a wing and a prayer. Preparation is essential. Whenever possible, without overdoing it, always try to state your views, or ask an intelligent question.

Resist the temptation to finish other people’s sentences or criticize them at a personal level.

Even if you are feeling emotional about an objection try not to show it. Your detractors will leap on you like a wounded animal if they sense weakness.

Be positive but if you disagree or have reservations say so and have reasons why you disagree to back this up. Show that you can think a thing through logically and laterally.

If you wish to speak hold up your hand and look at the chairperson. Only interrupt if the meeting has more of a casual flavor about it. Women interrupt conversations far more than men, in fact men find this rather irritating. They often wait until someone has finished speaking before having their say, unless the speaker is a waffler or droning on too much and the interrupter is an impatient man.

As chairperson if you wish to shut someone up without verbally telling them then one of the most effective ways is to look away as they are speaking to you, alternatively you can glance at your watch. You can sit forward and hold your hand up; this is the physical STOP sign. You can also accompany this by saying, ‘Hold on’, or ‘Excuse me’.

Never adopt the role of the Disruptor or the Nonentity

The Disruptor is the person who arrives late or dashes in and out to take phone calls. This is most irritating and implies superiority; either that or he can’t organize or prioritize his time effectively!

The Nonentity remains part of the furniture. If you don’t or can’t participate then you probably won’t be invited again. More involvement brings more responsibility but it also means more visibility and hence advancement.

Eye contact

During business meetings you should keep your eye contact on the eyes and forehead of the person who is speaking.

You can use direct eye contact to make a point both in a personal relationship setting and in a business setting, for example when you have a serious point to make or when reprimanding a child.

Do look interested during the meeting, lean your body forward, give good eye contact to the speaker and the chair, make occasional notes.

Don’t look bored, doodle, sigh, sniff and shift about unless you really want to give the wrong impression and not be asked back!