In business analysis, words are important, clearly—but when you’re face-to-face, what you don’t say (or hear) is at least as important as what you do say. To put your best BA self forward in meetings, try some of these ideas.
Take your rightful place at the table.
It’s a mystery why there is never enough room at the conference table for everyone invited to meetings. Three or four people always end up sitting along the wall or in the corners. Don’t be that person—arrive at every meeting early enough to get a seat at the table and make your presence known.
If you arrive late and try to squeeze in, you’ll feel diminished, and it will show.
Greet everyone, no matter who they are.
Making eye contact and speaking with each person who comes in, whether SME, stakeholder, or customer, will establish you as a primary party of the meeting. While you don’t want to sound like a store greeter, you do want to acknowledge everyone’s presence with a nod, if nothing else.
Eye contact is paramount.
Maintaining eye contact doesn’t come easy to everyone, so you may need to practice. When people are speaking, look at them, and you can focus on their eyebrows if looking at their eyes directly is too intense. If they look at you, nod your head to encourage them to keep on talking. Often, the information you truly need is buried and needs some time and gentle persuasion to come out.
Don’t forget paper and pen.
When you take notes, you appear focused and present, which impresses stakeholders and clients. You won’t lose or forget any important tasks or data. Taking notes also gives you written proof of what was discussed at the meeting for follow-up purposes.
However, there is a fine line here. We’ve all seen the person who writes down every word spoken. One wonders if he or she really absorbed anything. You’ll look more professional if you listen and then note the highlights.
Beware of some typical body-language mistakes.
The following may indicate nervousness, lack of confidence, or lack of interest. Be aware of your body at all times in meetings and monitor yourself.
- Inconsistent eye contact, looking away the moment someone’s eyes meet yours, or rolling your eyes.
- Crossing your arms.
- Leaning to one side and putting your head into your hand.
To start, pay attention to your body language at the next meeting you attend. You’ll have an idea of which mannerisms you need to cultivate or eliminate. Our course focuses on body language and how to do it right.