How to make a good impression at company meetings

How to make a good impression at company meetings

Company meetings are ideal for making a good impression at work. Unlike department meetings, company meetings are an opportunity to impress your immediate supervisor, other managers, coworkers, upper management and the company’s owner.

The consistent use of these techniques can increase your odds for additional training, employee recognition, promotions and increased pay.

  1. Be prepared

    Keep these things in mind when preparing for the meeting:

    • Be on time. Actually read the human resources memo about the meeting and note the time and date. Sneaking in late because of a dentist appointment may reflect poorly on your sense of priorities.
    • Show sincere interest. If the meeting memo has an agenda use this information to prepare on-topic questions and comments in advance. Doing so demonstrates to management that you care about the company.
    • Prepare a couple of general questions. When you don’t know the agenda ask about the status of issues covered in prior meetings or other pending office matters. This shows you’re paying attention and not checking your phone.
    • Don’t believe “there are no dumb questions.” There are! And you don’t want to be the one to ask them. Be smart about the questions you ask.
    • Steer clear of confrontational or accusatory questions: “Why is management blaming the staff for bad online reviews?” Asking questions about personal, human resources issues or concerns generally handled at the department level might look like an attempt to jump the chain of command.
  2. Talk solutions

    Offer to help solve problems.

    • Show off your problem solving skills. Briefly state possible solutions to dilemmas discussed in prior company meetings: “I have a few ideas about how to catch the office lunch thief.” Or, when appropriate, sharing issues specific to how your department plans to respond to negative reviews, makes you look like a good team player who is willing to put others in the spotlight.
    • Use historical references. If you’ve been with the company for years remind management how similar challenges were resolved in the past. If you’re new to the company or have been phoning it in for awhile, draw from your experiences at other places you worked: “The last place I worked hid a camera in a juice box to catch the office lunch thief.”
  3. Maintain a positive attitude

    Here are some ways to encourage positive vibes:

    • Offer positive comments and observations without looking like a suck up. Think of something you feel genuinely positive about and then share it when the meeting is open for questions: “I don’t have a question, but I think everyone agrees the new printer is a beast!”
    • Restate or piggyback on the positive comments made by others. Let coworkers know when you agree with and support their ideas.
    • Ask questions that will likely have a positive response: “So you said, you think we’re on track for meeting our goals this quarter?”
  4. Step up to the plate

    Some things you can do to help out:

    • Volunteer. The other side of the “it’s not my job” coin is “it’s not my job, but I’m willing to help.”  A willingness to pitch in is always appreciated, but take care with volunteering for tasks that are beyond your skill set. And you’ll get the most bang for your volunteer buck, by not waiting until you’re asked to help or you’re “volunteered.”
    • Offer to take the minutes of the meeting or to brainstorm ideas for customer appreciation day. And there’s extra credit for setting up the conference room before the meeting and tidying up bagel crumbs and coffee cups afterwards (managers do notice).
    • Get approval in advance from your supervisor to announce your availability to cover vacation and holiday staff shortages in other departments. Volunteering to manage the front desk when the receptionist is on vacation will truly be appreciated; especially if the company saves money by not having to hire a temporary employee.
  5. Ask for feedback and be alert for cues

    Here are some self-check tips:

    • Ask someone you trust for candid feedback about how you communicate. Specifically, you want to know how others interpret your tone of voice, demeanor/attitude, body language and confidence level.
    • Take cues from your audience. If the troops are restless after a lengthy debate about the thermostat being set at 68 degrees in December, make your suggestion about individual space heaters very short.
    • Dress for the person, the place or the job you want to have. In a small organization or a casual-dress office it can be hard to know how to dress for company meetings. Feeling like you’re dressed appropriately will make it easier to speak when all eyes are on you.
    • Take your lead from management on what to wear when the company brass or owners attend staff meetings and other company functions.
    • Unless you are on the meeting agenda to speak keep your comments and questions to the point. (This is where preparing in advance helps.) And keep a calm demeanor when others disagree or challenge your ideas. Don’t get drawn into heated debates during or after the meeting. Be willing to agree to disagree.