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Self-Assessment: Are You a Masterful Meeting Participant?

A study by MCI found most professionals believe that over 50% of meeting time is wasted—91% of respondents admitted daydreaming during meetings, 73% said they conducted other work during meetings and 39% admitted to having fallen asleep at meetings.

Obviously, if you are leading a meeting you have a certain degree of control over the proceedings and so can better ensure that everyone's time is well spent.  But what if you're not in charge?  What can you, as a participant, do to transform any meeting from a snooze to a success?  In his new book The Secrets to Masterful Meetings (Leadership Strategies Pubolishing, 2005), professional facilitator Michael Wilkinson, defines a masterful meeting as follows:  "A well-prepared, skillfully-executed, results-oriented meeting with a timely start, a decisive close, and a clear follow-up plan." 

To determine if you are a masterful meeting participant, Wilkinson has devised the following self-asssesment.  Answer the questions based on how you behave in most meetings. Although you may find several of the responses typical of you at different times, select the response that is the way you behave in most meetings. Try to be as accurate as possible in your assessment. (If you really want to have fun, have someone who regularly attends the same meetings you do score it for you; then compare the two scores.)

The Self-Assessment

 

A

B

C

D

1. If the meeting has not started at the scheduled time, most often I...

Wait patiently for the meeting to begin.

Talk with other participants about business or unrelated topics.

Ask the group to set a time limit, after which the meeting starts or is canceled.

Leave the meeting because I have more productive things to do.

2. If a meeting starts without a clear purpose or agenda, most often I...

Say nothing since most meetings start this way.

Listen attentively in hopes that the purpose and agenda will be identified.

Ask the meeting leader to give the purpose and the agenda.

Remind the meeting leader of the correct way to start a meeting.

3. During discussions, most often I...

Listen unless asked a question.

Speak up when an issue impacts my area.

Share my views and ask others to share theirs.

Speak the most because other people are quiet.

4. When someone makes a recommendation with which I disagree, most often I...

Wait to see if someone else objects.

Speak up if I believe the person is open to critical comments.

Ask the person to explain why he or she supports the recommendation and then share my thoughts.

Tell the person what I believe and why.

5. When a person with higher authority disagrees with a view I expressed, most often I...

Remain silent since the person will take the action he or she desires.

Acknowledge the person's right to disagree with me.

Ask the person to explain why he or she disagrees and then share my thoughts.

Tell the person what I believe and why.

6. When a person who is a subordinate or peer disagrees with a view I expressed, most often I...

Remain silent to avoid offending the person.

Acknowledge the person's right to disagree with me.

Ask the person to explain why he or she disagrees and then share my thoughts.

Tell the person what I believe and why.

7. If the discussion goes off topic for several minutes, most often I...

Stay quiet to avoid adding to the time spent in the off-topic discussion.

Try to steer the conversation back to the main point.

Ask that we record a reminder to discuss the topic later so we can get back to the main point.

Tell the group that we need to stay on topic.

8. If the discussion leads me to an important thought for the team that is off topic, most often I...

Make a mental note to mention the thought at another time.

Jot the thought down so I don't forget it.

Ask that we record a reminder to discuss the thought later so we can stay on the main point.

Tell the team about the thought and engage in a discussion about it.

9. If I feel the meeting is wasting my time, most often I...

Show respect by trying to stay tuned in and listening.

Start doing other work during the meeting to try to be productive.

Let the group know of my concern and ask if anyone else has this same concern.

Leave the meeting because I have more productive things to do.

10. When I believe I have a solution that can help the team, most often I...

Wait to see if someone else offers the solution.

Speak up if I believe the team is open to solutions.

Offer my solution and invite people to discuss strengths, weaknesses and other alternatives.

Tell the team what I believe and why.

 

Scoring

Add the number of responses in each of the four categories and record below. Then multiply the number of responses by the multiplier to arrive at four sub-totals. Finally, add the sub-totals to arrive at a total score.

Total Number of Responses in each Category

A:______

B:______

C:______

D:______

Multiplier

x 1

x 2

x 4

x 2

Sub-Totals

       

Total Score

       

Evaluation

Use the guide below to interpret your score.

30-40

You generally are a masterful meeting participant. You contribute when needed, you move the meeting toward constructive discussion, you help resolve conflicting views.

20-29

While there are times when your participation is masterful, there are also times when you may stifle your own participation or the participation of others. You may find it helpful to speak up more or to invite others to speak up. Seek win-win solutions to conflict by encouraging others to explain their views.

10-19

You can contribute much more to meetings than you currently do. By speaking up, masterful meeting participants help create an environment in which meetings are productive, effective, and engaging.