Read the Room


Meetings are a game and a dance at the same time. Whether you called a meeting or were summoned to one, there are some key things to remember. A one-on-one meeting is another animal, so let's assume this meeting has multiple participants and is all in-person (no Skype). 

Notice the environment; are there distractions? Are members periodically checking their devices, is the room too hot or cold, are there outside noises that will hinder conversation? If you have a point to make, try to time it in between distractions.

What about the people? You don't have to be a psychologist to read some body language. Do the participants seem receptive or stand-offish? Are multiple people contributing, or is there only a few dominating the meeting? If the meeting seems unproductive, and no ideas are sticking, it may be best to save yours for another time, lest it be thrown out with the bath water.

Finally, filter your input wisely. A brief anecdote: Amidst my group of friends in college, there were two "comedians." One made constant jokes trying to make us laugh. Many fell flat, but by sheer number of wisecracks, eventually we would chuckle. The other friend rarely said a word; he was quiet and reserved. But whenever he made a funny comment, everyone laughed.

Aim to be the second person in that story. Do not spew constant feedback with the hopes that something sticks. Save the good ideas for a perfect time, and without the cloud of noise, your ideas will most likely fall on receptive ears. Know your environment, read the people, and be intentional about your words.

Stephen Roblesmeetings