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11 Ways to Be a Better & Active Meeting Participant

Learn why you should be a better meeting participant and 11 ways to be a better meeting participant. Plus, get a free template!

By Hannah Ross  •   May 19, 2022  •   7 min read

At this point in your career, meetings are probably second nature. Despite having frequent meetings, you may not have realized that you aren’t always a stellar meeting participant. You could be doing a variety of things in your meetings that are distracting or that make it seem like you aren’t engaged or eager to contribute. 

Luckily, this article covers tips, tricks, and best practices for leveling up your meeting game so you can learn how to be a better meeting participant today. 

Why you should be a better meeting participant

It goes without question that being a good meeting participant brings many benefits. Learning to be a better meeting participant means being attentive, showing up prepared and on time, and participating in discussions. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, strengthening the way in which you participate in meetings can actually have a huge impact on the organization at large. Being a good meeting participant can have a large impact on not just meetings, but also solutions decided upon and project results, for example. 

Be a good meeting participant

Contribute talking points and action items to a collaborative meeting agenda to be a better meeting participant. Try a tool like Fellow today!

11 ways to be a better meeting participant 

1Contribute to the meeting agenda

It can be difficult to understand how to be a better meeting participant but luckily, there are lots of things you can do to get involved and participate more actively. Contributing to the meeting agenda is a great way to take a proactive stance while demonstrating your enthusiasm. 

There are numerous ways you can add to meeting agendas. If the host circulates the agenda in advance, you may be able to follow up with feedback, or if the meeting agenda is interactive, you can add your comments directly to the agenda. Weighing in and adding comments to sections in which you feel confident is a great way to contribute.

2Be an active listener

There’s nothing worse than attending a meeting and being in the presence of someone who is visibly not listening. But it’s not enough to simply listen; you have to be an active listener. Being an active listener requires you to listen attentively by being engaged and providing both verbal and non-verbal cues. Active listening involves four stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, and responding. It’s important to consider each of these elements when learning to be a better meeting participant. 

3Limit distractions

It can be nearly impossible to be a stellar meeting participant if you’re constantly distracted. It’s completely understandable that an email or notification may pop up from time to time, but you can limit these distractions by turning your notifications off or putting “do not disturb” on during meetings. 

Distractions may also arise if you don’t have a private workspace. If you’re working from home and don’t have your own office, you may want to set up a cozy corner from which you can work more peacefully. Additionally, you may want to avoid attending meetings from a coffee shop or a coworking space. 

4Take on a meeting role

Taking on a meeting role is a great way to get involved and participate in the meeting. Imperative meeting roles include, but are not limited, to the host, a notetaker, and a timekeeper. Each one of these roles is fundamental when it comes to running an effective meeting. The host is responsible for making sure the meeting runs smoothly, the notetaker is responsible for recording key decisions and insights, and the timekeeper is responsible for making sure nothing runs over time. 

5Be on time for the meeting 

This tip goes without saying. It doesn’t matter whether you’re meeting in the office or virtually, you have to show up on time. On one hand, being late for meetings is disrespectful and serves as a major distraction for everyone in attendance. On the other hand, being on time is arguably one of the easiest things you can do to be a better meeting participant. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and it’s something you should be doing anyways. When you show up late, you’re not only wasting everyone’s time, but you may also be missing out on crucial information that’s required for you to do your job well. 

6Provide meeting feedback

Providing and receiving feedback is a gift, and the host will likely agree. Not only does providing feedback help the recipient improve, but it also demonstrates that you were attentive enough during the meeting to derive valuable feedback. 

A healthy and strong culture starts with feedback, and Fellow enables your team to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance. Fellow also boasts a library of templates you can leverage to make sure you’re covering all of your bases when you set out to provide feedback. 

7Follow proper meeting etiquette

Meeting etiquette varies from organization to organization, but the principles remain the same. To be a better meeting participant, you need to know how to properly conduct yourself during meetings. Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, there are certain things you just don’t do during a meeting. Basic meeting etiquette tips include, but are not limited to: 

·       Showing up on time and ending the meeting on time

·       Remaining respectful and attentive 

·       Muting your mic when you aren’t speaking 

·       Reviewing reading materials before the meeting 

·       Limiting distractions and blurring your background 

·       Dressing appropriately and working from a serene workspace 

·       Only speaking when you’re called on or during appropriate conversational periods 

8Take meeting notes

Taking meeting notes is imperative. Doing so helps you retain crucial information and provides you with context and a reference point to look back on. Taking meeting notes can also be a great tool to leverage if you don’t want to interrupt the speaker. If you’re eager to chime in or share your opinion, it may be best to take notes and bring up your point at a more appropriate time. Waiting until the host calls on you or opens up the floor for discussion will ensure you don’t derail the meeting. 

Try this free meeting notes agenda template:

9Maintain eye contact with the speaker

If you’re wanting to be more attentive, maintaining eye contact is key. Consistent eye contact not only demonstrates that you’re attentive and engaged with the speaker, but it also helps to build trust and rapport. Oftentimes non-verbal communication methods (like eye contact) speak volumes when compared to verbal cues. Maintaining eye contact with the speaker shows that you’re actively listening and paying attention. 

10Ask questions

Asking questions is a great way to get involved and participate in meetings. Asking strategic questions demonstrates your attentiveness and may also help you gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. You may be surprised by how many people have the same questions as you do, which is why you should never feel bad about speaking up! 

Asking questions is great, but it’s important that you form your questions strategically. It’s important to only ask questions to which you can’t find the answers on your own. You shouldn’t ask questions just for the sake of asking; instead, ask questions only to deepen your understanding of the subject matter. 

11Read meeting material beforehand 

The meeting host often circulates valuable reading materials before the meeting. These reading materials are circulated because they’re fundamental to the meeting and typically provide more context into a subject to be discussed during the meeting, so it’s imperative that you take the time to read them. 

Not taking the time to read these materials in advance may come off as disrespectful, and it may lead to the host not taking the time to provide additional context in the future. Appreciate the time and energy they put into providing you with this additional information. 

Are you ready to be a better meeting participant? 

If you’re used to meeting frequently, you may not have even realized that you could have been stepping up your meeting game. Luckily, it’s not too late to improve and now is just as good of time as any to be a better meeting participant. Being a great meeting participant is all about being present, involved, and attentive. If you participate frequently, limit distractions, and contribute to the discussion, you’ll become a better participant in no time.

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