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How to Not Be a Complete Idiot in Your Next Meeting

A great meeting is a work of art. A lousy meeting is a train wreck. Lord, give us more artists.

4 things to never say about the people upstairs.

  1. I don’t know what the people upstairs are thinking.
  2. I doubt we can do it, but we have to try to keep the people upstairs happy.
  3. We’re going to fail. Maybe the people upstairs will learn to stop asking us to do stupid things.
  4. The people upstairs don’t get it. But we have to try anyway.

Middle management requires loyalty to the people upstairs when you’re with the people downstairs and loyalty to the people downstairs when you’re with the people upstairs.

3 things to never say to the people around the table.

  1. “Trust me.” Anyone who says trust me isn’t trustworthy.
  2. “I don’t know anything about this, but here’s what I think.” No one cares what you think if you don’t know anything.
  3. “That’s stupid.”

2 things to do when you don’t know what to say.

The person running the meeting asked for your thoughts and you don’t have any. Now what? You don’t want to look like an idiot.

  1. Ask about timelines, deadlines, and priorities.
  2. Add to another person’s idea. “Mary’s input made me think about….”  

7 tips for thriving in meetings:

  1. Talk less if you’re a talker.
  2. Contribute more if you seldom talk.
  3. Stay engaged. Look at people when they talk. Take notes.
  4. Stay on topic!
  5. Use people’s names. Make a map of the people around the table when you’re in a meeting with people you don’t know.
  6. Focus on getting things done.
  7. Clarify responsibilities.

1 neglected agenda item:

Work on the way you meet.

At the end of your meeting ask, “What’s one thing we could do to make our next meeting more efficient?”

What would transform meetings into works of art?

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