The Meeting Etiquette Tips That Make Michigan Ross Students the Best Interns
By Don Chao, BBA ‘17
This is the second in a series of posts authored by Michigan Ross Career Services Peer Coaches. Peer Coaches are undergraduate students working with Career Services to help their fellow students prepare for interviews and on-the-job success. To see the full series, click here.
During your internship, a manager may turn to you in a meeting and ask, “What do you think?”
If you’ve taken any of Professor Krishna’s classes, you’re used to being the subject of a cold call, but coming from an internship supervisor, this simple question could trigger some unneeded internal stress and worry.
But, fear no more! Here are some tips to ensure that you go into that meeting ready to contribute and impress your superiors.
- Before every meeting, review the objective and jot down three ideas/hypotheses/insights to contribute.
- During the meeting, ask questions that further the discussion and are relevant to the entire meeting group, and if applicable, be prepared to present a solution or hypothesis to that question.
- Summarize findings from your internship project(s) into three key points, and keep this list updated each day.
- Periodically seek feedback and advice from your manager(s) and peers.
- Practice speaking up with other interns by organizing weekly intern chats.
Interns are often expected to express their thoughts during meetings, and while it may be intimidating to share your ideas in a room of industry veterans, being prepared on how to contribute can make a huge difference in your professional development during the summer and in your superiors’ and peers’ evaluations of you.
Tip #1: PREPARE
Before every meeting, review the meeting objective and jot down three ideas, hypotheses, or insights to contribute to the objective, and share these during the meeting, when appropriate.
Why: Heading into a meeting with ideas will provide you and your team with a stepping stone to work from, rather than using meeting time to develop ideas on the spot, which will hopefully lead to a more productive meeting. If you are an internal thinker (i.e., the type to think through ideas thoroughly before sharing them), this tip will force you to spend the time vetting your ideas prior to meetings, freeing you up to share those ideas during the meeting. If you are a verbal processor (i.e., the type to develop ideas by speaking aloud), consider practicing speaking through your three talking points after you have written them down.
Tip #2: ENGAGE APPROPRIATELY
During the meeting, ask questions that further the discussion and are relevant to the entire meeting group, and if applicable, be prepared to present a solution or hypothesis to that question.
Why: Asking questions can be a less-intimidating way of contributing to meetings, but make sure the questions add value to the conversation, rather than detracting from it. Instead of solely asking a question, your team will appreciate your proactivity and problem-solving ability if you also provide a solution along with your question. This practice will provide a baseline solution for the team to work off, making the meeting more productive, rather than stalling it with an issue to be solved.
Best practices for asking questions during meetings:
- Review the presentation or agenda prior to the meeting, and if you have any genuine questions, jot them down to be asked during the meeting.
- Consider the timing of the question; short questions that may derail the conversation or are only applicable to one person in the meeting group may be more appropriate to be asked after the meeting.
Tip #3: KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS
Summarize findings from your internship project(s) into three key points, and keep this list updated each day. Doing so will ensure you are prepared to share details about your work if it ends up being relevant to the discussion.
Why: Even if your work is not directly related to the meeting objective, you may be able to contribute if the meeting changes directions or if you can share a relevant insight discovered through your work. To ensure you are prepared to do so, synthesize the insights from your work into three distinct points, and keep this list updated as you complete your projects.
Tip #4: SEEK FEEDBACK
Periodically throughout your internship, seek feedback and advice from your manager(s) and peers on your meeting contributions so you can identify areas for improvement and increase the value you bring to the team.
Why: Depending on your firm’s culture and the expectations of your manager, your meeting contributions may play a large role in determining whether you receive a return offer or not. Not only that, but your growth is dependent on learning what your areas for development are and how you can improve those skills. Proactively seeking out feedback and advice early and often [Link to feedback blog post] demonstrates your investment in self-improvement and gives you more time to demonstrate your development, rather than waiting to hear feedback during a midsummer performance evaluation and then adjusting your behavior.
Tip #5: STAY IN TOUCH
Practice speaking up with other interns by organizing weekly intern chats
Why: If speaking up during meetings does not come naturally to you, informal chats are good opportunities to practice building your skills. Regardless of the feedback you receive from your managers and peers, take the initiative to improve your ability to speak up by organizing informal chats to practice meeting contributions in a low-stakes, low-pressure environment.
One way to do this is by organizing weekly chats with the other interns where you all can share best practices/learnings and seek/share advice on problems you all have run into.
In the workplace, solely having smart ideas often will not suffice. To succeed, one must be able communicate those ideas effectively. With that in mind, I hope these tips help you enter your next meeting with confidence and readiness to contribute.
Don Chao is a 2017 graduate of the Michigan Ross BBA Program. While at Ross, Don served as a Career Peer Coach with Ross Career Services. Don will begin his career in consumer insights at P&G as an Associate Consumer & Market Knowledge Manager this summer. He previously interned at Prophet, a boutique brand and marketing consultancy, and at Unilever.