What to do Before Every Meeting

If you are a meeting leader, you will want to read this.

If you are a meeting attendee, you will want to read this.


Handshake before a meeting

5 ways you can be extraordinary at meetings. (Click to Tweet)

Whether you are leading a meeting or just attendee (“just” attending, as though that is unimportant), what you do before every meeting is important.

I’m not even talking about making an agenda, setting up the chairs right, or making sure your PowerPoint works well. You can read some great tips from Tom Dixon and from me here and here on meetings. Those cover the basics.

Your pre-meeting mission

What I want you to do before every meeting is stand out. Make yourself known. Show leadership whether you are the CEO leading the meeting or reside on the lowest rung of the totem pole.

Think about how most meetings at American businesses start. Half the people on time. Half frantically scrambling in late. Notepads ready. Meeting game faces on. Eyes on the clock. Mind on your project deadline. Total silence or banter about sports or pop culture.

They all start the same. And I want you to change that.

I want you to be extraordinary before meetings. Here’s how:

5 things to do before every meeting

  1. Be on time. Every time. 
  2. Shake people’s hands. Be bold. Shake everyone’s hand that you can. No one is too important or too low in the hierarchy to shake hands with. Afraid you’ll seem like a weirdo or butt-kisser? Don’t be. What you’ll be is someone that everyone will remember…and wish they had the courage to do what you did.
  3. Sit somewhere different. If you are leading the meeting, everyone expects you to sit at the head of the table. Unless it is absolutely company protocol, don’t. If you normally sit in one area, find another. Again, don’t defy protocol and not sit with your team or take the head seat if you aren’t the leader, but do mix it up.
  4. Strike up a meaningful conversation. Ask about someone’s family. If someone is new, sit next to that person and ask how their first week or two has been. Picture that you are a lowly CSR asking the new VP of Marketing how their first week has been…and tell me which CSR’s name he or she will remember. The same thing goes if the roles are reversed.

And a bonus #5 to do occasionally: Bring food. Remember the last time someone brought food to a meeting? Who was it? Odds are you probably remember. Maybe it’s just me but I always remember who brought the Chicken Minis or the fruit tray. You should probably Tweet this revolutionary thought: “Revolutionary insight from @MattMcWilliams2: People like when others bring food to meetings.” (Click to Tweet…I dare you)

Do any or all of those five things and you will set the stage for an extraordinary meeting.

What other tips do you have for the pre-meeting phase?

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