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Chapter 6. Meetings: Time-Wasters or Pro... > Get the Most out of Meetings You Att... - Pg. 70

Meetings: Time-Wasters or Productivity Tool? 70 When You Attend Outside Meetings Whether you are a team leader or an associate, you will probably attend meetings other than those limited to the team. These may be within the company or outside the company, such as conferences or conventions sponsored by trade associations or professional organizations. Here are some suggestions to help you make these meetings worth your time and attention: · Prepare for the meeting.Most conferences and conventions are announced months in advance. Prepare for this meeting in the same way you would for a team meeting as suggested above. Usually an agenda accompanies the announcement. Study it carefully. Does any subject listed require special preparation? You may want to read up on unfamiliar subjects to help you com- prehend and contribute to the discussion. You may want to reexamine your company's experi- ence in that area so you can relate what is being discussed to your own organization's problems. · Meet new people.Don't sit with your colleagues. You can speak to them any time. If attendees are seated at tables, make a point of sitting with different people at various stages of the meet- ings. Often at luncheon or dinner discussions, you pick up more ideas from your table mates than from the speakers. In addition, you can make new contacts who may be valuable resources for information after the conference ends. Keep an open mind. To get the most out of what a speaker says, keep your mind open to new suggestions. They may be different from what you honestly believe is best, but until you hear it all and think it through objectively, you don't really know. Progress comes through change. This does not mean that all new ideas are good ones, but they should be listened to, evaluated, and carefully and objectively considered. · Be tolerant.Have you ever listened to a speaker who turned you off immediately? You didn't like his or her appearance, clothes, voice, or regional accent so you either stopped listening or rejected what he or she said. Prejudice against a speaker keeps many an attendee from really listening to what is discussed or from accepting the ideas presented. · Take notes.Note-taking has two important functions. It helps organize what you hear while you are at the meeting, resulting in more systematic listening. It also becomes a source for future reference. · Keep an aha! page.Use this page in your notebook to list exciting ideas that you pick up at the meeting. These are items you want to make sure you don't forget. · Ask questions.Don't hesitate to query a speaker when the opportunity arises. But don't waste the time of the meeting with trivial questions. Avoid prefacing your question with lengthy com- ments. Be clear. Be brief. Heads Up! During a formal presentation, it is not appropriate to interrupt the speaker. If you have a question, jot it down on the last page of your notebook. This will be a reminder so you will not forget the questions you want to ask when the opportune time comes. · Be an active participant.Contribute ideas. In most meetings there are people who willingly share ideas and information. Others just sit and listen. When asked why they didn't participate more fully, people commonly respond: "Why should I give my ideas to these people? Some of them are my competitors and I won't give away my trade secrets."