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Counterintuitive tips and tricks for meetings
It’s not uncommon for senior or lead engineers to face challenges in meetings. Perhaps you’re grappling with social awkwardness or a tendency to lose focus—I definitely struggle with this a lot.
Here are three tricks that have helped me, and might help you.
Embrace the pause
First, master the art of the strategic pause. It sounds strange—pausing in a meeting, on purpose? While it might seem like a break in flow, these pauses help. They allow everyone to absorb what’s been said. Pauses create space for reflection and questions. In the end, everyone benefits from these moments of clarity.
This doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to regularly see long, awkward pauses. Lead the meeting forwards if your attendees are shy and uncomfortable. Encourage them to ask questions, or even ask questions yourself.
Resist the urge to jump in.
Perform and encourage repeat-backs
Second, try a repeat-back. This is where you ask your teammates to paraphrase key points or instructions. Lead from the front by doing it yourself. It might feel like you’re treating them like children or wasting time. But in reality, it prevents misunderstandings. It makes sure everyone is on the same page.
It doesn’t have to be a formal thing. Just repeat back your understanding of what’s been said and ask if it’s right. In my experience, engineers are more than happy to correct any mistakes in your understanding.
Miscommunication wastes far more time than a simple repeat back.
Take a couple of deep breaths
The final approach involves taking a moment to simply breathe. Throughout your meeting, allow yourself a few seconds to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. This might seem unusual or feel like you’re disengaging, but it’s actually an effective tool for maintaining focus.
Deep breathing helps reduce stress and increases overall cognitive function. It’s a small act that serves as a quick mental reset, enabling you to maintain your focus and stay present during your meetings.
Remember, it’s not a long break, but rather a brief moment to recharge your mental energy.
It’s as easy as inhale, exhale, and refocus.
Give these tricks a try
Leading a meeting can be daunting, especially if you’re a little socially awkward. But these counterintuitive strategies can make a real difference. They might seem strange at first. You might face a little resistance. But the payoff in improved communication, focus, and team alignment is well worth it.
Give them a try in your next meeting.
Maybe not all at once. Keep one trick in mind for each meeting. Practice them until they feel natural.