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Squelching the “Meeting Nerves”

Meetings can often take up to 50% of one’s work week. So often I hear from professionals who are ‘relatively new’ in their professions and feel intimidated before or during meetings.

Here are a few tips to quell those apprehensions and get on the path to being a contributor and not just an observer.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

  • The day before the meeting, converse with someone ‘in the know’ about the upcoming meeting. Perhaps starting the conversation with “Do you have a few minutes to discuss tomorrow’s meeting?” or “ I noticed there is a meeting regarding____ just wondering what might be my roll in tomorrow’s meeting.” Or “Regarding tomorrows meeting, is there any specific thing I should know (or be prepared for?)

  • Do your homework and research as much as possible regarding the upcoming meeting:

  • the topic

  • the client

  • the problem

  • who will be there

  • why the meeting is taking place

Be In The Know!

Positioning and Power Posing

  • Seat yourself near someone who is a major player in the discussion. This will help you keep focused and not fade into the wallpaper. Observe how they conduct and handle themselves. This learning activity will benefit you in the future.

  • Once seated, sit up straight and smile confidently at those coming into the meeting and already seated.

  • If you cower or slouch, you and your colleagues will not be convinced you should even be there. Don’t hide behind your device.

  • Look for an opportunity to make small talk with someone before the meeting begins.

  • A compliment always goes a long way. Be genuine!

Be Present

  • Listen with both your eyes and your ears.

  • Put away your device.

  • Take hand written notes. This will keep all pertinent information in front of you and organized. It will also help you keep focused.

  • If someone asks you a question and you feel off guard, refer to what someone else said (that’s where those notes come in handy). Agree with the point and if you can, add to it.

Do you own debrief

  • Once back in your office, take a big breath and make notes on how the meeting went for you with both positive and negative observations. Learn from your experience.

  • Keep a personal meeting log. It is through self-examination that we improve.

  • Before your next meeting read over your personal notes, mentally take yourself into the meeting setting and prepare to have an even better experience.

The next time you are feeling anxious about that big meeting on your calendar take a deep breath and work your way through these steps.

Jeannie Vaage, Etiquette Consultant, VIP Protocol
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