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Before you start talking, work out what you are going to actually say

This might seem to be an odd topic. After all, most people in meetings are pretty experienced and have probably been to more meetings than they care to remember. So why raise it?

Well, we are not saying that our clients misbehave, but we have certainly seen a variety of ‘types’ in the meetings that we have chaired over the years, mostly positive of course. But there are perhaps a couple of learning points in there worth mentioning.

You may have seen the earlier blog post about preparation. This doesn’t just apply to the people submitting reports, but to everyone.

Have you completed your actions? Or at least updated the secretary with progress?
Have you submitted your own reports, and highlighted to the secretary (using Magic Minutes of course) which bits need highlighting in the meeting?
Have you read everyone else’s reports once they have been submitted, and flagged any parts you would like to discuss that they haven’t highlighted themselves?
Have you looked at the agenda and really thought through whether there is anything you want to add? It’s amazing how many meetings we go to where the AOB at the start raises a whole list of extra subjects – and they haven’t just cropped up! It’s just that the attendees have waited until the meeting to think about it.

Apart from that, the main thrust of this thread was about what happens within the meeting. It’s about listening and speaking.

When you listen, are you really taking in the other person’s point? Or are you keeping an eye on your texts and emails? If you do, are you thinking about the best way to respond, or even whether to respond? Or do you just grab the airtime and start talking?

Meeting time is very valuable, and attendees should respect one another for why they are there. Ask yourself when you start talking:

* Am I raising a concern that I believe needs addressing? Or expressing a view in response to someone else doing it?
* Am I adding information that will help to make a decision?
* Am I proposing something? Such as a decision?
* Am I asking for information?
* Am I volunteering to do something? Or asking someone else to do something?

In other words – are you moving the meeting forward in its objectives? Or just thinking aloud?