Regardless of how you feel about company meetings, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re important opportunities for you to impress your boss and colleagues. Yes, sometimes they can be a drag. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get a word in thanks to your boisterous coworker. And, yes, not actively participating during a meeting can negatively impact how your boss perceives you.
Company meetings take on an added level of importance when you work primarily on your own, rarely get face time with your boss (and your boss’ boss), or work remotely or travel often. You want to shine during those critical face-to-face moments.
The good news is that you can start on the right track before the meeting even takes place. Little things like checking the details of the meeting, researching what will be discussed, and coming prepared with questions will immediately set you apart.
To find out the best ways to stand out in a meeting, we reached out to career experts in a variety of fields.
Here’s what they had to say:
“It is a good idea to take a look at the agenda to get a sense of who will be in attendance, the topics being covered, and figure out what points you can make to add value. This also gives you an opportunity to go through the points that you may want to raise in the meeting with your boss beforehand. That way you can gauge, in advance, how your contribution will be received and you can adjust accordingly if needed. If there are particular points that your boss is excited about, then focusing on those will highlight you as a superstar in the meeting setting. ”
—Toni Patterson, career mentor
Take notes by hand and show you’re focused
“What is most impressive in a meeting is when the speaker is prepared and concise. Your bosses and colleagues do not have the time to wait for you to sift through your notes mid-meeting to answer their questions, nor do they have time to listen to you ramble about micro-level data points. Having a solid understanding of your goals, efforts, and outcomes is key to delivering only the MOST important information in a meeting where time is crucial and the discussion is focusing on strategy at a higher level.”
—Cassie Gonzalez, brand and community manager, OnePitch
“Think about the topic beforehand and make some notes about your own ideas, suggestions for next steps, and anything else you’d like to bring up. Having notes on hand will make you feel more confident and prepared, so you can focus on the conversation instead of gathering your own thoughts.”
—Anna Bolender, head of PR, Badger Maps
Focus on making one key contribution
“Make your comments count. We have all interacted with personalities that need to be the center of the meeting and dominate the floor. Don’t be intimidated by these personality types. Look for your opening to showcase your value. A good manager or meeting facilitator will be able to focus the meeting to give opportunities for varying opinions and solutions. It’s ok to be the individual that doesn’t overtake the meeting but that only contributes high value compelling facts and solutions. Leaders and managers secretly love these types of contributors.”
—Margaret DeCarolis, president and CEO, Vytekk Technologies
“People often think they need to say a lot to get noticed or to influence people, but that isn’t true. I’ve been in meetings where others overlooked a solution or didn’t take an idea far enough, and I’ve spoken up. Sometimes, your one contribution could even be a question that others didn’t think to ask. Do your research ahead of time and pay attention to what others have to say, and you’ll figure out your value-add pretty quickly. This takes the pressure off feeling like you always need to be right or have all the answers.”
—Priyanka Prakash, financial and business writer, Fundera
Use research and data points to back you up
“Present ideas in a way that is easy to digest, such as using reports or short anecdotes to show you’ve done your research. It’s important to be as succinct as possible, because we know everyone is constantly inundated with information.”
—Jessie Towns, marketing manager, MudbuM Facial Bar
Ask questions that show you care about the topic at hand
“The number one way to get noticed is to ask a provocative question. By ‘provocative,’ I don’t necessarily mean controversial or overstepping. I mean that you are provoking thought, consideration, and furthering the discussion. You don’t have to have the answer; you only need to have the question and why it’s important to explore it. In all of my years of executive management and coaching, the people who ask provocative questions are the ones who are noticed and remembered. They give the impression that they deserve a seat at the table, and are often sought after for input and brainstorming later.”
—Nicole Littmann, founder Aurelian Coaching
“My rule on all comments made during a meeting is this: does it fit within T.H.I.N.K.? (Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary, Kind). If what you’re about to say doesn’t fit within one of those categories, don’t say it. Meetings can be a huge waste of time so filtering yourself by asking if what you’re about to say fits within one of those categories helps everyone get out of the meeting and back to work faster.”
—Sarah Moe, co-founder, Flauk
Speak last (if possible)
“Most meetings are nothing more than participants’ status managing. The extraverted alphas almost always win. But here’s the deal: while everyone else is jockeying for position, the introvert has the advantage of actually thinking through the evidence being presented. By the time everyone else has spoken the introvert may very well have a unique idea, take, or solution on the challenge or opportunity being presented. Speaking last is the smart way to get noticed in a good way.”
—Jonathan Denn, author of Drumbeat Productivity
Follow up with your boss after
“Write out steps for your follow-up discussion and planning. Say your boss comes up with a brilliant idea to collaborate with another company for your next big event. Start brainstorming and writing down the steps and potential needs to get this project done seamlessly. You can then discuss these with your boss after the meeting and not only showcase how you plan and think ahead, but you can also potentially take on more responsibilities which could get you a raise—or even promoted.”
—Amanda Oliver, founder of The Color Coded Life
“Wait about 24 hours and then send a note to the person that presented at the meeting with any key takeaways or ideas. Make sure to always copy your boss so they’re in the loop.”
—Ren Burgett, business coach at 3R Coach
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.