Six tips on how to participate in a meeting

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, Demand Media

Participating in a company meeting is a chance to get noticed by your peers and superiors. What you bring to a meeting — and what you don’t bring — can give others a positive or erroneous impression of you. Prepare yourself for business meetings and follow a few simple rules to make yourself stand out like a star performer instead of a sore thumb.

Be prepared

Prepare for the meeting by reading the agenda and brushing up on what’s going on. If you’re not sure what the meeting’s about, ask someone so you can prepare. If the meeting is a regular meeting with minutes taken, read minutes of past meetings to learn what’s already been discussed and decided. If the meeting is organized, the participants might follow Robert’s Rules of Order. This includes participants making a motion, one person seconding each motion, discussion, then a vote called by the meeting chair.

Pick your battles

If someone makes an error or you disagree with him, think before you speak. Don’t show someone up if you can correct him later. Even if the person is a subordinate or someone you don’t like, others in the room will wonder if you won’t have their back in the future.


Don’t leave a meeting without contributing, if it’s appropriate. Some meetings are primarily for giving information. Others are more interactive. Either way, take an opportunity to ask a question, make a comment or just lend your support. Be careful not to appear insincere by simply stroking a superior. Look for opportunities to make specific comments. If you’re going to compliment someone, tell the room exactly what you feel is positive about the idea or information.

Choose your timing

Don’t be the first one to comment on a presentation or proposal if you’re not senior management or an expert. Your questions and comments might be answered by someone else who goes after you and you might learn that you misinterpreted what was said. Wait until you are confident that your input is needed and correct before you raise your hand.

Don’t dominate

Even if you have several valuable questions and comments that contribute to the meeting, don’t dominate the discussion. After you make a point, wait for others to chime in — they might make another point you were going to add, giving you a chance to sit back and contribute later.

Soften objections

If you see problems with ideas or proposals, try to frame your concerns in a positive way. Instead of telling someone she is wrong, point out the problem by asking a question, instead. This gives the person a chance to show they have the situation covered, and covers you if it turns out you were wrong. For example, instead of saying, “We can’t produce that many units in one week,” ask, “How do you see us ramping up production to meet that demand?”