How many meetings do you have at work per week? Do you have one, two, five or more? Many life science professionals dread having meetings because it takes them away from their main job, while work keeps piling up. Another common complaint is that nothing gets accomplished or agreed upon within a meeting, due to different viewpoints. A lack of consensus can lead to having more meetings about the initial meeting you went to and wasting more time.
Management teams and executives call meetings for a variety of reasons, including to brainstorm innovative ideas, to explain and implement new procedures, and to get immediate feedback on performance goals. How has your attitude and behavior affected your results as a meeting participant? It’s important to understand that as someone in the meeting, there are things you can do personally to become a more effective contributor. Here are four tips for being more productive in meetings.
Focus on the topic
One reason many meetings get derailed and end up taking longer than expected is an overall lack of focus. When people don’t stick to an agenda, discussions can lead in many directions. If you’re not in a management role, you probably don’t have any control over the topic of meetings, but you can be mindful to only contribute information that is relevant to the current discussion. You don’t want others to think of you as a person who takes everyone off track. In the event someone else takes the conversation in a different direction, finding a way to bring it back to the main subject can help position you as a leader.
Eliminate the use of technology distractions
Leave your laptop out of the meeting room and if you must bring your cell phone, have it out of sight. Looking at your laptop, texting on your phone, or just reading other content while you’re in a meeting is rude and can send a signal to others that you aren’t invested in the conversation. Many professionals think they are capable of multitasking effectively, but that isn’t accurate. A research study found that only 2.5% of people are actually able to multitask without decreasing their overall performance. Doing multiple things at once causes the majority of people not to complete any task to the best of their ability.
Take descriptive notes
Some professionals think that meetings are boring if they don’t have access to other stimuli such as their phone or laptop. Yes, the truth is that some meetings are boring, but try to consider the big picture regarding why your boss thinks it’s vital for you to be involved. Taking descriptive notes can occupy your time and helps you think about any potential obstacles or challenges relating to what’s being discussed. Recording notes is great for your own reference after the meeting, but also is a sign to others that you are serious about your position and want to do well.
Being vocal during meetings is positive for many reasons: you let others know that you’re paying attention and that you have the confidence to present your ideas and are a critical thinker. The key is to speak up when you have a meaningful question or comment. Just talking excessively doesn’t help anyone and can make it seem like you are wasting other people’s time. Even if you have a critique or think something isn’t a good idea, you want to present that information objectively. You don’t want to come across as negative or someone who kills ideas.
Meetings at work can be a productive time to plan, or they can be drawn out and seem like a waste of time. Even though you might not have a say in the meeting subject or whether you attend, you can improve your own productivity. Stay on track during the conversation by focusing on the topic at hand. Eliminate or substantially limit your use of laptops and cell phones. Write descriptive notes so you don’t have multiple questions afterward, and to improve your critical thinking. Finally, speak up if you have beneficial comments or questions for the group. How will you improve productivity during your next meeting?
A Product Manager with expertise in pharma marketing and sales operations