You’re in a meeting, and you want it to go well. Perhaps you have your own objectives that you would like the group to help you accomplish. There are techniques to help you get control of the meeting or at least to exercise considerable influence. If you practice these techniques well, you will be seen by others as positive, supportive, helpful, and a leader. You will also gain potential allies.
Mediating among participants
Two people are disputing each other’s views. You feel that the issues have gotten fuzzy. So you intervene, asking each one to let you try to interpret his or her position so that you can understand it better. After you’ve made your interpretation for the group’s sake, you ask each to correct or add to what you’ve said. If you differ with them, take the opportunity to explain how. You’ve earned the floor constructively.
Again, people are disputing. They have ceased to listen to each other. You recognize that they are not so far apart as they think. You step in, again with their okay, and show them their areas of agreement. You can stress any of those areas you agree with.
Another member of the group is having trouble getting the group to listen to her ideas. You step in to get her a hearing. You don’t have to agree with her, but your supportiveness will gain you an ally.
Some people have a hard time breaking into a discussion. You say, “Larry’s been trying to make a point for some time. I think we ought to hear him out.” Your opening the way to him will help the group, break up any powerful subgroup that has been dominating, and gain you a possible friend for some later time.
Summarizing the meeting
People often don’t listen well in meetings. Meetings flounder when people talk and don’t listen. Endless arguments occur, or people talk all around a subject. You’ve been taking notes, and you intervene by saying, “Perhaps it might be useful to sum up what’s been said so far.” An expert Summary opens the door for you to add some of your thoughts.