If you are presenting, it is best for you to sit across the table from the key members you are presenting to. When you are in meetings and not presenting, it is still important to be visible. If you are in a meeting but not presenting still try to sit across from the high level managers in the room in order to make sure you can make eye contact. In a larger presentation, sitting up in front is best. In this way your presence will be noted and you will be able to focus and interact in an unobstructed way.
This is a small thing but pays big dividends. During meetings and conversation, make eye contact with the person talking to ensure you are catching the full meaning. Since everyone doesn’t watch their colleagues when they are speaking, the presenter may focus more of their attention on you. This can also elevate your importance in the meeting and make it easier for you to interact with the presenter. You will get more out of your interactions and your colleagues will appreciate the engagement.
When you are in meetings, it is good to get in the habit of taking notes for yourself. This is another way to stay engaged and interactive. It makes sure you capture any follow-up action items and key points of interest. If you have your own notes, you do not need to rely on anyone else to recap the meeting. You may find your notes handy to review when summarizing your weekly highlights in your 1:1s. However, don’t get assigned the role of “official note taker” for meetings because you want to make sure you are available to participate fully.
In meetings and conversations, you may be anxious to state your opinion on a topic or better understand a colleague’s position by asking questions. It is important to have input but it is equally important how you get your opinion across. Make sure you let your colleagues finish their thought before you take a turn. In short, don’t interrupt. It may take your proactive attention but it will be worth it.
For meetings you run, it is good follow-up to send summary mail to all in attendance with next step actions assigned to owners. In this way you capture the main points of the meeting so everyone can reference it in the future. The email will also serve to remind everyone of their responsibilities. The simple act of sharing the list is a social incentive and makes people more accountable for what they signed up to do and keeps the project rolling forward and on track.
People notice if you are late, especially if it happens chronically. This is not the reputation you want because in essence if you are late more than you are on time, you are implying that your time is more valuable than anyone else in the meeting which indeed it is not. If your schedule has back to back meetings, then being late is something that can be hard to avoid without proactive management. If the meetings you are joining were arranged by someone else, it is best to notify them as the meeting starts that you will need to leave promptly on time. If you set the meetings, you might try making the minute a 55 minute or 25 minute meeting so it starts 5 minutes than the normal time. This would give both you and your colleagues with tight schedules a 5 minute “passing period” so everyone can be on time.
If you are on a meeting invite, there is a reason you are invited. The meeting creator wants your input. So when you get to the meeting, sit at the table. That sounds easy but sometimes when there are lots of people in a room, and you are a junior person, it may seem easier to hide in the back or sit around the outside. This may be tempting but don’t do it. You can add just as much value as the other people in that room and it is important for them to see you participating and hear your opinion, so always sit at the table.