Q: Paul, I’d appreciate your input. I attend several meetings that need to be better – but they are not my meetings. What can I do as a participant to make these meetings more successful? — Sasha

Sasha, there are three places to look:

1.     Participate as though the way you participate might make a difference in how the meeting goes. Usually how we participate is heavily shaped by how we prefer to participate. That is, we do what is comfortable. If you stepped a bit outside of your comfort zone, would you participate differently?

2.     Look for what is missing in the conversation and provide it. These are areas that are likely to be missing:

•       Clear set-up or introduction of the topic

•       Broad participation

•       Clear process for how the topic will be discussed

•       Thorough wrap-up of the topic before the next topic is started

•       Specific commitments to take action

3.     Ask for what you need to make the meeting work for you. You always have permission to do this.  Plus, it’s likely others need the same things and are not asking.

Then, I think it’s useful to look at what other people might need. Start by getting to the meeting early and asking if the leader needs anything. Then pay attention to other people who are attending and see what you might do to enhance their experience of the meeting.

Sasha, you are in a good place.  Just think if everyone came in thinking about how to make the meeting better, how quickly things would improve. Good luck!