“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
– Dale Carnegie
Government employees spent a lot of time in meetings. Stepping up your game at these meetings is not hard. When you do, it can have a positive effect on your career and can make meetings fun.
People have crafted all kinds of cool ways to make time in a meeting more enjoyable – from doodling on notebooks to playing footsie or flirty face with a colleague. The next time you want to spice up your meeting presence, try the technique I demonstrate below.
At the beginning of every meeting – particularly when new or unfamiliar faces are in the room – there is usually a period for introductions. We start at some point and go around the room. People state their names and maybe a little blurb about their title or what they do. Get ready!
- On one page in your own notebook, draw a quick diagram of the room. Make a circle, a square of a horseshoe for the table. Draw a box around that for “second stringers” who sit around the main table, etc.
- As people announcement their names, write them down in the correct place on your “seating chart.” Spelling isn’t important. First names are more important than last names.
- Announce yourself when it’s your turn and get ready to have some fun. You’ve got more info – and more important info than most everyone else in that room.
- As the discussion unfolds, keep a list of points made. Write the name or initials of the person in the margin next to each point. Leave a line or two for yourself to collect your thoughts and jot down a note or two. These will become your speaking points.
When the timing is right, say your piece, but do it like this:
“As John said a moment ago, I like the idea of…”
“I think I heard Janet say…”
“Can I expand on something I heard Frank mention in the beginning of the meeting?”
Look at the people you’re referencing when you use their name. This technique has stunning results. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!
Here are some of the things I’ve found by using this technique:
- The person you referenced will be impressed that you remembered their name. They will appreciate your bringing their name up – especially if you do it in a positive way.
- The person you referenced will wonder how you know them. (I’ve actually had people come up to me after a meeting and ask me how we know one another – a great opportunity to establish or deepen relationships).
Everyone else in the room will make some assumptions about you:
- You are on a familiar, first name basis with many of the people in the room. You must be connected.
- You’re plugged in not only to what’s going on, but who is doing/saying what.
- You’re articulate, expressive, and understand the importance of relationships.
Have fun with this! The larger and more complex the room, the more impressive this technique can be. You will see people raise their heads from whatever they are doing when they hear you say their name. You’ll see other people ping-pong their heads between you and the person’s name you used (they’re watching his or her reaction and wondering how you two know one another). You’ll have some entertaining after-meeting discussions as people come up to you and either try to figure you out or try to get to know you – because obviously, you’re the person who knows everyone else.
After you try it, please come back here and leave a comment about your experience. I think it would be great fun to read people’s stories.
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