In keeping with the toolkit theme for the upcoming book Communication Toolkit for Introverts, chapter 5 is titled, Your Head Band Light: Succeeding in the Business Meeting.
Just like the headband light can help with seeing the path ahead more clearly, meetings can be managed to be more effective. Even to the degree people might like to attend them.
Here’s how to let your introvert light shine in any meeting you are part of whether as the facilitator or an invitee.
“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”
Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame is quoted as saying this. Yes, even Captain James T. Kirk, had a disdain for meetings. Is it any wonder?
Meetings in business are an everyday event. It could be in-person or online. For years the business productivity specialists have advised leadership, “Have a meeting when it is the only way to communicate the message.”
Hello. Is anyone listening?
It’s doubtful because the most recent statistics tell a grim story. Some research cites that people are attending as many as two meetings a day, with little productivity to show for them. Imagine how drained an introvert can get.
And when 50% of many meeting time being wasted, how does that help a meeting reputation by anyone’s personality preference?
Here’s an over used place in business we can put our introvert style to productive and even appreciated use.
How the introvert style fits in
Regardless of our role in a meeting, steps need to be taken before for preparation, during for the effectiveness and after to get results.
You may or may not be aware but I interviewed close to 18 specialists in the six essential skill areas for the upcoming book. Most of them were introverts and our communication was done via email. For extroverts, no surprise, they preferred we meet in person for any local experts or on Skype or Google Hangouts when geography did not allow that.
Funny how that turned out to be just perfect and true to our nature.
Meetings are prime energy vampire time with being with other people so much. I asked Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D. and an introvert, how she would advise an introvert to prepare for meetings. You’ll read the specifics in the book.
But there in lies understanding how our introvert style fits meeting effectiveness.
The size of a meeting affects us, after all, I think it was Jonathan Rauchman who years ago, is quoted as saying about the introvert, “One is company and two is a crowd.” But we might not always be in the person calling and facilitating the meeting to manage the size. In that case, what we might find beneficial to further our comfort level is to have some smaller pre-meetings with key people who we think would be necessary to help our contribution.
If you have an opening to volunteer for something, raise your hand to keep the meeting on track. First your role will be easy enough, something like a greeter at a networking event. Additionally, knowing and following the agenda, gives that introvert space to prepare instead of needing to be pressured with spontaneity.
Throughout any meeting, our introvert style balances the extrovert style to boost our confidence that we are meeting. For example, for the extrovert who might prefer doing many things at once, the introvert can be focused on one thing. And for the people who like to talk more, people who listen more are always needed.
Still there is little room for resting in a meeting, and left unchecked with all the people drain, it’s good to have at our immediate access, things we can do to recharge. That’s when we will contribute the most.
Powerful body language communication so you don’t have to say a word
Body language – including seat language, eye contact and even color use – are some of the most effortless ways for an introvert to positively affect their stature in a meeting and get their voice heard.
The specific ideas in this chapter are a perfect fit for the introvert because it requires little to nothing to verbalize and yet, there is plenty of preparation time to put most comfortable silent language tool to use.
Without giving away the content of the book (my publisher will know!) here is a quick tip about how to sit to use in your next meeting, whether in person or online:
- How you sit is important in an in-person meeting. Men and women, particularly when they are nervous, often have locked knees and ankles or intertwined legs. One tip I learned from Dr. Ellie Drake is that any kind of constricted position constricts our personal energy. This limits us in our contribution.
- Even if you are not nervous, sitting with your legs crossed isn’t healthy for the circulation and it plays havoc with your spinal alignment.
- Better to create a strong visual with a position like most men sit anyway. (see the first image) While sitting with knees apart about shoulder width, bring one leg up and have the lifted leg lay on the knee of the opposite leg.
- Women, this sitting position is only recommended when you wear slacks, as you can deduce the reason from the sample photo.
- The idea is to sit in a way so your body to take up space rather than shrinking into a small area which locked knees and twisted legs do.
Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and with a TED Talk video that has 17 million views about some of her research, concludes that when we change our body position we not only change other people’s perception of us, we change our own body chemistry. Our body position changes how we think, feel and are perceived. Here is a shortened version:
If you want your words to be heard at the next meeting you are in, prepare for this chapter of the book to give you dozens of ideas that take little preparation and just as many that the introvert will like for the planning.