Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Make the most of your meetings

Posted on: March 22, 2011

How to make the most of your next meeting

Don’t miss the chance to impress your colleagues, clients or boss – and inch closer to that pay rise. Use Kuhnke Communication’s top tips to achieve your aims and make the most of each and every meeting.

 First of all, make an entrance. When you enter the room, hold for a moment to take in the scene.  If you’re carrying a notebook, pad, or lap top, hold it by your side, not in front of you.  Hiding behind your props makes you look defensive and as if shielding yourself. Once you’ve surveyed the room, acknowledge others who may already be there before moving.  A simple smile and nod of the head will do before you speak.  Do not scurry into the room.  When you move, move with purpose.

Next, sit upright, with your weight evenly distributed.  Leaning forward shows interest and involvement, sitting back indicates that you’re stepping out of the discussion and are reflecting on what’s happening. Feel free to take as much room at the table as you can.  Men spread out leaving women squished in wherever they can fit.  Folding your hands, leaning forward with your elbows resting on the table demonstrates that you’re claiming your space.

When it comes to your part, whether presenting or pitching. Distribute your weight equally between both legs (i.e., don’t stand with your weight mostly on one, bending the knee of the other, jutting your hip out). Standing ‘4 square’ with your feet and knees placed evenly beneath your hips makes you look strong and in control.  Put your hands in the power position (elbows bent, hands together at waist level, finger tips touching or one palm resting in the other.) You can also hold your hands by your sides.  This may feel uncomfortable and it’s the strongest position you can take.  You’re completely open to your audience, in your most vulnerable position, saying in effect, “Here I am.  I have nothing to fear.” Hold your head as if it were floating on a gentle lake, with your chin parallel to the floor.  Lifting your chin can make you look arrogant and dropping it may make you seem unsure.  Establish strong eye contact.  When you speak look at your audience 65-85% of the time.  NEVER look at the screen behind you if you’re making a power point presentation.  And NEVER read from your notes.  The moment you break eye contact, you give away your power.  NEVER stand with your hands clasped in front of your pelvis (Fig leaf position), this makes you look defensive and protective.

Finally, avoid any other common mistakes. Women give up their power by making themselves small.  They tend to bring their shoulders forward and hold their arms close to their bodies.  In addition, they often stand with their legs crossed, making them look like little girls instead of powerful women. They also tend to nod frequently in agreement and smile to excess. This makes them appear conciliatory, which, while fine in theory, can be interpreted as relinquishing power. Strive to maintain a neutral stance as described above, with a calm and impartial expression.

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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2 Responses to "Make the most of your meetings"

Kudos for an EXCELLENT recommendation! “Don’t scurry!” Love it! I have observed and given feedback to teams on hundreds of group simulations, and see women do all of the things you wrote about and more. I’d also add, ‘take a seat where the action is, don’t relegate yourself to a corner’ and add emphasis to “feel free to take as much room as you can” – definitely take MORE room than you think you need, because guys WILL spread out and move into your space.”
You rock, Elizabeth, thanks for writing this.

Well, Thanks for that, Stacey. You rock, too! And many thanks for the extra suggestions. Any and all tips for helping women claim their space is welcome. Did you see the article in last week’s Style magazine? Lots of good tips in there.

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