How to communicate more effectively in meetings


Even with increased use of technological communication methods, such as emails, phone calls, and video conferencing, workplace meetings are still one of the best places to get live feedback, exchange information, collaborate, plan projects and make decisions that will impact the organisation’s bottom line.

“Over the past decade, meetings have gotten a bad rap primarily because they are not managed effectively, or they are not used for the right reasons,” explains Lyndy van den Barselaar.

To ensure that workplace meetings are effective, there are certain protocols to follow. ManpowerGroup South Africa provides seven tips on how to communicate most effectively in meetings.

Be clear, concise and direct: People often criticise the effectiveness of meetings because they often run too long. Therefore, it is important to prepare well before meetings, to ensure that when you are communicating, you can clearly articulate your point in a concise and direct manner.

Practice active listening: Whenever someone is speaking, he or she should be the most important person in the room at that moment in time. Listen carefully to what is being said, and pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Do not interrupt the speaker, allowing them to complete their thoughts. “If you are unclear about something that was said, respectfully ask for clarification,” says van den Barselaar. “To make sure that you understand what is being communicated, paraphrase what you have heard.”

Use a talking stick: In the indigenous community, they have what is called a ‘talking stick’ or ‘speaker’s staff’ – meaning the person with the stick is the only person who is allowed to speak. “This is a good practice to adopt because it eliminates several conversations from going on at the same time, and it also gives introverts the opportunity to share their ideas,” she explains.

When the speaker has completed their thoughts, they pass the stick to another person.

Support your arguments: If you are in a meeting with ‘difficult’ people, always make sure that you have statistics, facts and other documents to support your claims and statements. If someone questions what you are presenting, respond with grace and professionalism, showing him or her your supporting documents.