A recent mentee was promoted to general manager, and was attending the national online meeting of Group GMs for the first time. She was anxious about how her first report would land, in front of a very experienced group of peers. However, the group CEO had also changed at this time, and the new CEO shook everyone up by saying he was not going around the houses getting a report from everyone anymore, that it was a complete waste of time. He would only want to hear from people who had something useful to say.

Our client had her online wave hand up in a flash, and gave a short pithy and really insightful report. Afterwards she was thrilled that she had spoken at all at her first meeting, that she had jumped right in without any thought, that she had delivered her message well, and most of all that she got great compliments afterwards.

The trick was in the preparation. We had prepared a short contribution that was all about insight, not so much about information. The problem with a round the houses reporting structure, particularly online, is that people feel compelled to fill in on every single thing they have done since you last met, rather than giving a good example of how something is working on the front line, or sharing some experience that others can learn from.

The best advice is to read the meeting agenda and decide where you are going to contribute and how you are going to contribute. Plan to tell them something they don’t already know, to give them something to think about, to share information that you are hearing, and to ask for insights from others present. In other words, make your contribution useful and memorable, rather than rote.

It is not the person who talks most at an online meeting that stands out, it is often the person who brings something interesting and different to the airwaves.

From Speak Now, Communicate Well in the Workplace. Order you copy here