Most meetings are boring. There, I said it. Hopefully my boss isn’t going to sack me now, and if she does… well, I only hope she doesn’t hold a meeting with me to discuss why. And I’m guessing that you’re in the same boat as me. No matter how hard you try, you sometimes just can’t help your mind wandering during a meeting! When you’re meant to be listening to the annual turnover report, you actually end up thinking about what you might have for dinner.
So what can you do to improve your listening skills during a meeting? How do you actively listen during a meeting? Well, I’ve come up with three interesting tips that have helped me – and maybe they can help you, too.
1. Get to Grips with the Meeting Agenda
If you’re not sure what a meeting is going to be about, then you’re immediately making yourself vulnerable to switching off as soon as you enter the room. After all, unless you know what the meeting is about, then you have no idea of what you’re meant to be getting out of it – you have no goal. And as you probably know, having a goal to work towards helps us to keep our focus.
Sure, you’re not always going to have a printed meeting agenda – especially if it is an off-the-cuff “meet me in my office in 10 minutes”… but if you CAN access the meeting’s agenda, then you SHOULD access the meeting’s agenda. What’s more, you should ask yourself “what should I have gained by the end of this meeting?”. Doing this should get your meeting off to a more focused start, and help you to keep up with what’s being said.
2. Bring a Notebook (and actually use it)
There are plenty of studies that suggest taking notes helps you pay better attention. You’ll also remember more at the end, too! You have to listen to take notes, and if you’ve written something down, it will stick more clearly in your head.
Of course, you might have to remind yourself not to get distracted by the little stick men you’re doodling in the corner of your page.
3. Look at the Person Who is Speaking
Whether the meeting is a one-sided seminar or a big group think-tank, you should aim to maintain regular eye contact with whoever is speaking at any given time. I’m not saying you should creep them out by staring them down – eye contact should be broken from time to time. But what I am saying, is that while ever you are looking elsewhere in the room – be that at your stickman doodles, at the posters on the wall, or even at the attractive person to your left – then you are opening yourself to distractions, and you might end up tuning out.
How do You Ensure You Listen During Meetings?
I’d love to hear what you are doing to maintain good levels of concentration during meetings. It could be any type of meeting. Maybe you have to interview a lot of applicants? Maybe you have a quarterly sales report you always attend? Perhaps you get yourself into a lot of disciplinary hearings? Whatever it is, and whatever you do to stay alert, let us know by leaving a comment below.