Reclaiming Your Time: How To Establish A Leadership Presence In Meetings

In 2017, a three-word phrase Congresswoman Maxine Waters repeatedly used during a contentious House Financial Services Committee debate with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin set off a political and social media frenzy. The phrase “reclaiming my time” quickly became a popular joke among professionals because it accurately describes how so many of us feel when we want to save time in the office. 

Long considered the main source of communication and sharing ideas, meetings can become one of the biggest timewasters in the office when done improperly. Here are some tips to help you create a strong leadership presence in meetings and reclaim your time, even if you aren’t the host. 

REVIEW THE AGENDA Review the agenda to find out what information or deliverables are expected from you. Agendas provide details on who will speak during the meeting, and what will be discussed. If there is no agenda, reply to the host and include all other invited guests, asking for an agenda or a list of topics that will be discussed during the meeting so that you can properly prepare. You are including all other invited attendees as a courtesy because everyone would benefit from having that information. 

HOST TIP: Give the meeting a name that accurately describes the goal of the meeting, and provide an agenda that provides a roadmap of how to accomplish that goal within the allotted time. 

PREPARE FOR THE MEETING If you have been assigned deliverables for the meeting, get clarity on the method by which the information should be delivered. Are you expected to have an oral report, an infographic, an executive summary, or a full presentation deck? How much information do you already have, and who do you need to contact to get the remaining details required to complete the assignment? How much time do you have to speak or present? If your deliverable involves other team members, reach out to them as soon as possible to discuss the project and timeline. Make time to practice at least once and be sure to test all media. 

HOST TIP: Create a master presentation that includes all meeting decks and request that all presentations are submitted at least one day in advance to avoid technical mishaps. 

DURING THE MEETING Arrive on time (early, if possible) to ensure a timely start for the meeting, and alert the host if you will be late. Confirm whether or not the host will be taking notes and sending minutes to follow up after the meeting. Be prepared to take your own notes either way and offer to assist the host with note-taking if they are unable. When it’s your time to present, be mindful of your time and decide if you will leave time for questions afterward. Be clear about your findings, next steps, and deliverables from stakeholders. 

HOST TIP: Arrive a few minutes before the meeting starts to prepare the room or virtual space and greet attendees personally. Use meeting software to record if allowed or be prepared to take copious notes. Don’t wait more than five minutes for late attendees before starting the meeting. 

AFTER THE MEETING Review your meeting notes while the information is still fresh. Fill in additional details as necessary and add relevant follow-up tasks to your calendar. Share your notes with the host and include all other attendees if you’ve decided to provide meeting minutes with everyone. 

HOST TIP: Send a thank you note with meeting minutes to all attendees and set the next meeting date before you adjourn. Follow up with the next meeting invitation. 

Use these tips to start establishing a leadership presence in meetings and successfully reclaim your time in the office! 

x Marci Bryant, MBA is the owner of SYNC Digital Agency and a HubSpot Certified B2B Strategist focused on aligning marketing, sales, and service teams to improve the customer experience in digital spaces.Connect with Marci on LinkedIn:

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