You’re in a meeting. You’ve got ideas. It would be nice if someone paid more attention to them.
The big shots in your meetings don’t need tricks. They have power, and people will listen to them because they have to.
Others have natural talent for swaying meeting participants. Getting others to agree with them is their gift.
For the rest of us, a trick or technique would be helpful. Start with these two simple ideas and then add others.
1. Take Notes
But that’s the note-taker’s job, and you’re not on the hook for that today. Too bad, do it anyway. Here’s why.
When you take notes, it’s a way to show others that what they are saying is important; so important, in fact, that you don’t want to forget it. We all like to feel important. We’re also more receptive to people who show us that kind of respect.
Second, taking notes makes you look more serious. Others will interpret the behavior as something that smart people do. We are more likely to listen to people who appear to have it together. It builds credibility.
Finally, taking notes will help you listen better and track the conversation more fully. When the time to speak does come, you can reference other people’s contributions in your own comments. This helps others warm up to your ideas because they are included in them. It also helps you deliver an argument that is better organized.
Be the reporter referring to her notepad during a live report. When she references her notes it looks like she’s not making stuff up. Instead she’s reporting indisputable facts. Who’s going to challenge her facts?
2. Speak Early
Let’s imagine you’re in a meeting and the leader asks some version, “What do you all think we should do?” You’d be smart to offer your suggestions first because of something called the anchoring bias. This is our brain’s tendency to give more weight to the first information it receives.
Your suggestion may be extreme, but because you offered it first, the group is likely to land on a decision that’s closer to what you want than it would have if you had never offered it in the first place.
Here’s an example. You and the other members of the executive team are discussing what to do about an under-performing R&D Manager. In your opinion, up to this point everyone’s ignored the problem because the manager is kind of scary. You’d like to see him reassigned or at the very least put on some sort of performance plan, but believe no one will agree to either of those suggestions.
Out of frustration, you’re the first to voice an opinion, “We need to fire him.” You’ve just created an anchor, and it becomes the starting point for the conversation. Chances are others won’t agree, but now reassignment or performance plans looks reasonable in comparison. That’s what you wanted all along.
BTW, if you ever wondered why dealers put sticker prices on a car when everyone knows the sale price will be lower, it’s because it represents the first price from which to work the negotiation. It’s an anchor.
Earn Influence Over Time
The best option of all is to earn the respect of your coworkers over time by working hard, being a team player, and building a reputation as someone with smart ideas.
While waiting for all that to kick in, you’ve got two new tactics you can use that might cause people to pay a little more attention to what you say.