Perfect Your Meeting Skills: More From the NAWL Annual Conference

How to prepare for and participate effectively at meetings with superiors and clients is another topic touched on at the recent National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) Annual Conference in NYC last week.  You know from my writing and speaking that I believe preparation, confidence and asserting yourself and your position are critical to career success and satisfaction, and all of that was touched on and more.  Here are a few of the comments from panel participants on these subjects:

  • When you are at the meeting table, BE AT THE MEETING TABLE.  Do not be intimidated when you ask a question or make a remark.  It is a confidence game, and you have to be confident and own your ideas.
  • Be deliberate about building an executive presence.  That includes developing your personal brand and creating talking points for your strengths.
  • You must have gravitas, which is poise under pressure.  Be prepared.  Be in control of yourself.  Be calm.  Create the image of someone who should be taken seriously.
  • Always have an agenda, formal or informal. Know what you want your listeners to take away from the meeting and present it well.
  • Remember that a different point of view is helpful in developing your own ideas and positions and that superiors often are trying to assure your professional growth by “pushing back.”  Develop a comfortable way of dealing with contrary views, including co-opting opinions of others when you are expressing your own.
  • You can’t know every answer to every question you may be asked.  If you do not know the answer, acknowledge it and offer to research it and respond later to the questioner.
  • How you deliver information that people don’t want to hear is very tricky.  Think about how you are going to phrase the message.  Think about whether you are the best person to deliver the message to keep everyone at the table and talking.  If not you, who?  Adopt the vocabulary of people you admire in similar situations.
  • Always end the meeting by recapping what was accomplished and what remain as open action items and assigning follow-up responsibility for the open items.

Put these skills to work and become proficient at the meeting table.  Soon you will be noticed as having leadership potential.  That is WHAT YOU WANT!

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