Business meetings can be stressful events. Everyone wants to impress, show off their leadership skills, make cogent and thoughtful comments, and—most of all—not embarrass themselves in front of their bosses. How can you succeed under pressure, especially when interacting with executives with varying leadership styles? Be memorable, and treat your boss as a respected peer.
To impress your boss in a meeting, consider employing these five winning strategies:
1 Make smart small talk.
No one enjoys talking about work 100% of the time, not even managers and executives. Like you, your boss has hobbies and interests outside of work. Do your research. Learn about your boss’s interests, and see if you might even have one in common. It’s a great way to ease into the meeting, but remember to keep it brief—you don’t want to hold up the main event.”
2 Choose your meeting materials wisely.
Just about every workplace expert suggests being prepared for your meeting, but Mike Gamson, an executive, and educator on workplace issues for LinkedIn Learning, takes it a step further. He recommends following the lead of the executives in the room. Chances are, they place minimal materials in the space in front of them.
Many folks set up their place at a conference table with laptops, handouts, notes, and pens. Gamson feels this arrangement implies you are subordinate, not a peer. Employees often use these materials as a crutch, keeping them from directly discussing matters at hand.
It’s good to have these materials on standby if needed, he says, as it demonstrates your preparedness. “But don’t start that way.”
3 Respect your boss by respecting your own work.
The power disparity between boss and employee can often make interactions tense and awkward. While it’s natural to overanalyze interactions with your boss later, it can be counterproductive. Bosses are normal people, just like you, and should be treated as such.
Never forget that you are a valued and integral part of your work team. When the boss-employee relationship is most effective, you both work toward the same goal. When you succeed, so does your team and manager. Your work is a reflection not only of you but of your boss’s leadership qualities. Your words and presentations should show regard without being servile.
4 Ask intelligent questions.
A meeting setting is a unique opportunity to impress your boss. When you ask intelligent questions in a meeting, it demonstrates confidence and a desire to better understand your work or industry. It also gives you a chance to exhibit your drive and commitment. Curiosity is formidable; complacency isn’t. By asking questions and demonstrating interest in the higher workings of your organization, you could position yourself for consideration for future leadership opportunities.
5 Finish with a strong call to action.
Smart meeting preparation and discussion are vital to impressing your boss, but there’s still more that can be done. If you’ve impressed your audience throughout your presentation but leave without a call to action, you’ve missed a big opportunity, if not the point of presenting.
The call to action should come near the end of the presentation and inform other meeting attendees how they should act, or what next steps they should take, considering what they just heard. This message should be concise, tackling only one primary item if possible. The call should also be urgent and memorable, logically leading your boss to agree to your desired tactic or plan.
By following these simple rules, you’ll have a better chance of commanding your boss’s attention and respect and will be in a better position to persuade him or her to take action on your initiatives and work goals, inside and outside a meeting environment.