7 tips + 8 insights for making a good impression in a business meeting

Oct 28, 2015 by Ronnie Apteker

We spend much of our working lives in meetings, but do we reach the desired results? Do people look forward to these meetings? Do we make good impressions?

First rule of meetings

Be on time. Have a pen and paper, diary or notepad.

Always be prepared. Have a thought-out agenda.

Running through an agenda at the beginning of meetings can save time and sends a signal to others that they need to focus.

Don’t interrupt when others talk. Be polite. Be professional.

Listen, then ask questions. Be genuinely interested. Show people you care. Never look at your phone - this loses major points.

You can ignore all the basics, but never forget to listen.

Avoid being a spectator

Make impressions so that others look forward to seeing you again. For this you need to inspire them, or at least make the effort. Customers and colleagues appreciate enthusiasm.

Steve Jobs wanted to make a dent in the universe. Start smaller, by making a dent in your meeting.

Capture imaginations, get them wondering, create smiles.

Engage with attendees and stir their creative side.

Example:
If you can tell a good joke at the right time, you will make an impression.

However, not everyone is good at telling jokes. But when you make yourself vulnerable and step outside your comfort zone, people notice.

Be a human

Trust, good service and guidance are expected from business associates. But there is way more to life than just professional service. Remember to tap into our shared human emotions, it makes us look forward to the next encounter.

Meetings are opportunities to help one another, nurture ideas, solve problems.

Making impressions saves time and money

If we are simply forgotten after meetings, then the time and effort it takes to get back onto someone’s radar can be draining and a waste of resources.

Use every opportunity, especially when meeting key new people. Try reading their minds with your business cards.

‘According to workplace studies, most people spend 35% to 50% of their time in meetings, and the percentage increases every year. Executives surveyed consider a full two-thirds of meetings to be unproductive time-wasters. Make it your goal to create a memorable impression.’

Source: Forbes - 5 Ways to Create a Memorable Impression in a Meeting

Use meetings to experiment, like a science lab for business exploration. Mix beakers of ideas together to see what will work and what will blow up, before taking it to market or to next-level presentations.

8 Key insights:

  1. Listening enables you to spot the important ideas and moments. Make note of them.
  2. Be memorable and relevant. Give your communication a clear, actionable end goal.
  3. Be selfless. Help facilitate and encourage everyone. Do it for the greater good, for a positive outcome from the meeting.
  4. If people tend to fall asleep in your meetings, update your gameplan. Throw in some curveballs and unexpected delivery techniques. An icebreaker could be the ticket here.
  5. Weave in story and metaphor to explain your point. It provides clarity and memorability to your words. Once again, choosing an appropriate icebreaker can also aid your storyline.
  6. Not everyone can orate like Winston Churchill. Use your unique voice and play to your personality strengths.
  7. All questions are good questions. (Unless you’re trying to be a smartarse, you know who you are ;-) Not everyone likes to be the bigmouth, so encourage the quiet ones.
  8. Aim for open discussion from yourself and others. Showing that you’re willing to discuss things from a personal, unguarded perspective demonstrates vulnerability. You don’t need to cry in a meeting to achieve this, but speaking your mind and providing a sympathetic ear can help.

The more vulnerable you are willing to be, the more open others will become. People who feel safe are more likely to speak their minds.

Take note

Taking notes during meetings can create an air of authority, it demonstrates that you’re actively listening. You don’t have to write down every word like it’s for a varsity exam. Use strategic keywords and your own style of shorthand while actively listening. Ensure that your shorthand makes sense and is readable for after the meeting.

What’s the point of writing if you’re not getting published?

Okay, not literally published, but offer to summarize your notes and mail relevant people your insights – it keeps the conversation going after the meeting.

Use initiative

Don’t wait for others to assign responsibility. Be bold, take calculated risks to ensure that your natural skill sets and abilities get noticed.

Unexpectedly taking ownership can inspire – especially where the dialogue in the room is poorly facilitated.

It’s a free country, man… Don’t play it safe, have your say.

Intrigue works

Consider sharing the secrets behind any icebreakers you’ve learned. This helps to further connections.

Try out an air of mystery. Be the person who poses relevant questions to steer the meeting in the right direction. Then listen to the answers. Like all good psychologists and TV hosts, get the best out of others by gently guiding them.

Summing up

In our experience, when people are excited to see you again, then you’ve made an impression and connected on a human level. It also means that you probably care. Good people are hard to find – stick together. Always remember why we have two ears but only one mouth. And because we’re all unique snowflakes, find the best combination of techniques that work for your personality.

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