In almost any meeting in the office, you will find individuals who have little or no reservations about tossing out their ideas full throttle. For many, especially those with more reserved personality traits, this environment can become a test of patience rather than a constructive exchange of thoughts. If you prefer to listen and ponder what is being said, dynamic banter may be overwhelming and exhausting for you to endure.
Whether you’re a full-fledged introvert who thrives on quiet order to do your best work or you simply want to participate at your own pace in group conversation, these tips will help you communicate effectively in your next business discussion.
- Review the agenda in advance. A clear understanding of the gathering’s purpose will allow you to prepare your thoughts carefully. As the facilitator, adhering to an itinerary will keep things moving along and give you a guideline to follow. After making the outline, you may discover that the issues on the agenda can be addressed via email or a quick visit with a few key players instead.
- Control the crowd size. Invite only those whose input is necessary. It doesn’t make sense to ask the entire office to sit through a program that does not pertain to them. Ask the organizer privately if you can be eliminated from the next huddle. A word of caution; you may have been included because the facilitator or your boss believes you have something valuable to offer. When appropriate, weigh in with your thoughts or suggestions.
- Widen your circle. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to people you haven’t yet met. Familiarizing yourself with the group will make it easier to contribute.
- Be one of the first to speak up. For those that are uncomfortable talking in groups, the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to interact. Jump in early and ask a question or say something that shows your involvement.
- Take advantage of the follow-up. Even if you didn’t fully engage during the meeting, you could still do a little damage control afterward. Reach out to the speaker by email, explaining that after careful thought you have a few additional insights you want to share. While admittedly, it was perhaps disappointingly evident that you didn’t actively participate at the time, sending along your ideas shows you were listening and focused while you were in attendance.
For more of my business etiquette tips, check out my article: Ask the Etiquette Expert: 7 Steps to Changing Your Career, on The Huffington Post.