Did You Participate in the Meeting or Were You Just There?

Meeting Participation

Have you ever been to a meeting where everyone just sits around a table?

No coherent conversations take place because everyone is working on something else.

Laptops are out. Cell phones are on. And no one is even paying attention to the topic at hand.

Afterwards, you feel like the meeting was a waste and wonder why it was even scheduled.

Does this sound like your last meeting?

Did You Participate in Your Meeting?

Was the last meeting you attended worth your time?

Before you answer, here is the pointed question.

Did you participate in the meeting?

Perhaps, you were there physically, but your mind was somewhere else.

It’s not fair to say the meeting was a waste if you weren’t participating. Each meeting is what you make of it.

So, ask yourself, “Did I participate in my last meeting?”

Present vs. Participating

There is a difference between attending a meeting and being in the meeting.

The first means you are physically in attendance, the latter means you are actively participating in the activities.

“Many meetings are a waste of time simply because the attendees don’t participate.” (Tweet this Quote)

How do you ensure that you participate in meetings?

Here are some Tips to Ensure You Participate in Your Next Meeting:

  • Pay Attention – Step one is to simply pay attention in the meeting. Listen to the discussion and meeting leader. How often does your meeting devolve into a chorus of, “Can you repeat that?” You can’t participate if you aren’t listening to the conversation.
  • Take Notes – Taking notes is one of the best ways to show engagement in the meeting. Others will know that you are actively documenting the important points. I recommend a paper notebook (Moleskine is still the best) for notes. The clickety-clack of a keyboard is distracting and gives the perception you are working on something else.
  • Be There in Person – Always attend the meeting in person if possible. Face-to-face is always more effective. Never “Phone It In from Down the Hall.” That is plain lazy. When you can’t be there in person consider using video or FaceTime.
  • Ask Questions – Meetings should be a discussion. A one-way meeting could have just been a memo or email. Ask questions to move the topic forward. Ask questions for understanding. And ask questions to get to answers.
  • Turn Off the Tech – Technology usually doesn’t make a meeting more productive. Rather is serves to constantly interrupt and distract. Make your meeting techless. Turn off phones and notifications. If you must, check your tech at the door and only use your paper notebook.
  • Be Prepared – It’s hard to participate in a meeting if you don’t know what you are there to talk about. Read the advance materials and agenda. Prepare your own questions and notes. Meetings shouldn’t be about reading documents together. Instead, they should be about making decisions and discussing topics of the day.

Make Sure You Participate

If you are not going to participate, then that meeting is probably not worth attending.

Make the most of your time by always participating in the discussion.

The more you put into the meeting, the more you will get out of it.

Question: What is your best tip to ensure meeting participation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3 thoughts on “Did You Participate in the Meeting or Were You Just There?

  1. I try as much as possible to minimize unnecessary meetings. I definitely value great conversation and the ability to talk things through with a team, but so often an hour is wasted sorting logistics, or worse yet, rehashing the same ideas over and over again. Meetings aren’t effective unless everyone follows up and takes action.

    You bring up an excellent point – participation! Even if a meeting isn’t necessary, we should still make the most of it! We should going in with the right attitude and finding a way to MAKE the meeting meaningful.

  2. Ask questions of everyone in the room. Ask with the intent of securing a response from everyone. Some of the best responses are often left unsaid due to lack of participation.

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