This is a short extract from an interview I did with Errol Williamson in spring 2015. In this podcast I explain how to make sure your voice is heard and you can get your point across in meetings.
EW: Professionals involved in free earning careers know the importance of making a good impression at meetings; meetings with clients, internal staff meetings and perhaps even meetings with clients and partners. Everything they say could count or discount towards their achievement of partnership status, so what advice can you give to the aspiring partner to get his or her voice heard during meetings so they’re making the right impression to the influencers?
HT: The first thing to realise is a lot of meeting happen outside the meeting. So prepare have an understanding of what the agenda is, both at a spoken level but also an unspoken level. The second thing is listen, the cliché is you were given two ears and one mouth and use them in that ratio, but actually do that. The best thing to do is understand where the power lies in the meeting, make sure you don’t sit at the edge of the table.
So what do I mean? I’m somebody that’s 5ft 2ins, I can’t wear heels so I am given 5ft 2in status and that’s as high as I’m going to stay. I do a lot of meetings with men and so you can imagine I’m at least 10 or 11 inches below where they are, I don’t have the same physical presence as they do, I’m a petite female, consequently I always try and make sure I’m sitting in the middle of the conversation. I do it at restaurants, I do it at work meetings, I always make sure I’ve got the best place to be able to observe and to be able to see what people are thinking and doing. So choose your seat wisely.
The next thing to do is work out whose agenda it is, who’s actually the real what I would call stakeholder in the meeting, and make sure that you’re helping them do that. There are some people that hardly say a word and I recommend that you speak up more. How do you do that? Wait for a pause, and maybe summarise what people are saying, maybe ask a question, but add something to the debate. If you’re somebody though that is at the opposite end, you talk all the time and it’s hard to get a word in edgeways, what I would suggest is that you reign that back, that you take the time to find out what other people are thinking, and you listen. Listening and asking well intended questions will probably get you a huge amount of influence without realising it.