13 Types of Meeting Attendees You Don't Want to Be

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Business People In a Meeting
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By Hannah Morgan

In a recent study released by Clarizen, 35 percent of employees said status meetings were a waste of time. Participants also reported spending about nine hours per week preparing for and attending these time-sucks.

Unfortunately, meeting organizers usually have the upper hand in determining how it runs, but you do have control over how you contribute and personally benefit.

These are 13 types of meeting attendees you don't want to be. Do you recognize any?

The Meeting Misser: Are you MIA again? Being absent from meetings may send the message that you don't care or have more important things to do. If you do need to miss a meeting, be sure you notify the meeting organizer and provide any updates you are expected to deliver.

Ms. Side Tracker: Meetings get side tracked when you bring up unrelated issues. Keep on topic, write down your brilliant ideas and choose who you need to follow up with outside the meeting.

The Silent Observer: You may be sending the message that you are disinterested or unprepared when you don't contribute during meetings. Plan in advance to strategically make one or two comments or questions during the meeting to raise your perception among the team.

The Kiss Up: Learning how to respectfully disagree or raise alternative solutions takes practice. Don't be that person who always says "yes" or agrees with your manager's ideas to make yourself look good.

The Day Dreamer: Do you find yourself drifting off in another world during meetings? One way to stay present is to assign yourself a role. Volunteer to keep meeting minutes or keep track of time.

The Phone Checker: When you're that person who regularly looks down at his or her phone, it sends a message that the meeting is not important. It also distracts you. Keep your phone off the table or out of reach so you aren't tempted.

The Late Comer: Are meetings not starting on time because you're late? Not arriving on time is a sign of disrespect to the meeting attendees who arrive on time. It's also unproductive for them to have to waiting for you to arrive.

The Eater: Your chowing down on a granola bar can be disruptive, and some even consider it rude or unprofessional. Don't be the only one bringing your food to a meeting. A cup of coffee or water is more appropriate.

The Rambler: You don't want to be the person who hogs the meeting's air time with your long-winded update. Give some thought to what you will say before the meeting so you present your ideas clearly and concisely.

Mr. "It's All About Me": Say you're concerned about how upcoming changes will impact you, or you want to highlight an upcoming event you are hosting or participating in. Assess how relevant your issues are to everyone in the meeting, and avoid using valuable meeting time discussing details that only impact you.

The Side Conversationalist: If you have something to say during a meeting, either pose it to the whole group or not at all. Whispering with the person sitting next to you is distracting, and when you talk, you aren't paying attention. Furthermore, your actions may convey you don't care what others have to say.

The Nay Sayer: Nothing kills a good brainstorming session like someone who shoots down ideas. While you may know for a fact that the suggestion won't work, carefully consider if you should mention your perspective during the meeting or wait until afterward. Being right isn't always as important as being a team player.

The Wimp: Eliminate passive or doubtful words from your vocabulary, such as "I think," "maybe" or "I just wanted." When asked to respond to a question or provide your thoughts, communicate your ideas with authority, sit up straight and project your voice so people don't miss important details.

Here are more suggestions to improve your participation in meetings:

Prepare for the meeting. Mentally gear yourself up for an upcoming meeting. Review the meeting agenda and purpose, know who is invited, create a list of questions you want answered and envision how and when you will participate. This prep work is particularly helpful if you typically prefer not to speak up in meetings.

Also make sure you have all the materials you need, such as something for note taking and previous meeting minutes. If you need to deliver a status update, be sure you have outlined your talking points.

Arrive early. Showing up at a meeting a few minutes early shows you are organized and have a respect for time. It also gives you the opportunity to network with the attendees and perhaps get some of your questions answered before the meeting begins.

Move forward. One way to engage yourself and get everyone on track is to make sure there is agreement on ideas with clearly assigned next steps, according to Rory Channer, chief business officer at CircleBack. Take initiative to record important action items and who will be accountable. You can also suggest sharing the action items up on a board. Channer recommends providing visual sign posts, which allow all meeting attendees to interact with the same information in different ways and creates additional accountability and goal articulation.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.
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