Power Up Your Meeting Presence

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Do you ever leave a meeting feeling one of the following frustrations: you could have done a better job of saying what you needed to say, or, even though you wanted to say something, you didn't?

This feeling can gnaw at you, especially if you're prone to re-enacting all the "I could've said ..." scenarios. Don't waste your time on that. A better use of time is to figure out how to be ready for the next meeting. This could be a department heads meeting, or even a performance review. Whatever the setting, your goal is to come prepared.

What's important to understand is that even for the most public-speaking averse of us, there are strategies to help you communicate in a way that is concise, well-structured, and grabs the attention your terrific idea and/or comment deserves.

Now, before we dive in, I want to clarify that more often than not (and this depends on your personality) you don't need to be the one in the spotlight making all the comments. I think it's safe to say we've all experienced that particular circle of hell that involves being in meetings with colleagues who constantly make comments – most of them sucking up time and not driving the meeting's mission forward.

Let's go for quality over quantity.

Executive Coach and leadership presence expert Ora Shtull has what she calls her magical formula to help you step up you meeting presence. She calls it CAR, which stands for Context, Action, and Result. Basically, you need to break down the content of what you want to deliver. First: Start with a description of the context/challenge. Second: Describe what happened, i.e., your action. Third: What was the result of your actions?

CAR works well when you need to give updates, progress reports, or share your accomplishments. Here's an example from her book, The Glass Elevator: A Guide to Leadership Presence For Women On The Rise:

Context: My team is actively working on maximizing registration for the sales event.

Action: I have overseen more than half of the personal outreach and we have a 40 percent positive response rate to date.

Result: The personal touch is translating into a 20 percent increase in registration this year, which will give us the opportunity to market our new product more broadly.

Done. This way of structuring your thoughts helps everyone to understand exactly what you're saying.

And if you don't have an update, Shtull says, don't forget about strategic questions. Great questions to ask can be about a specific problem: What's the cause? How bad is it? What do we stand to lose? What's the ROI (risk of ignoring)? Also great are questions about a potential solution: What's the price tag? What do we gain? What do we save? When do we spend? Have we evaluated alternative solutions?

So, if you're not the type to go to a meeting and just wing it, try a little pre-meeting preparation and never forget the power of a well-thought out question.
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