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What's Better: Speaking More at Meetings, or Less?

Two different perspectives from veteran consultants detail the pros and cons of each approach.

While the purpose of most meetings is to exchange information and ideas in order to move the business forward, one factor plays a wild-card role in that exercise: human dynamics. Specifically, the manner in which each attendee participates in meetings has consequences for which perspectives and ideas become favored, and for that individual's long-term standing and influence as well. So, is it better when people say more in meetings, or less?

Anett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking Inc. and author of the e-book CEO Speaking: The 6-Minute Guide, contends that "to be seen as a star employee or a leader, you need to speak up. ... By staying silent, you leave potential career advancement on the table." In this article, she outlines four ways to do so without coming across as out of your depth on particular topics, or as simply overbearing.

On the flip side, Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas and the author of Smart Thinking, cites an effect that happens at meetings called "presenter's paradox:" When one person puts forth too many ideas in a single meeting, the mediocre ideas actually dilute the impact of the great ideas on the group—and also dilute the influence of the person proposing the ideas. "You really do need to contribute often enough that people realize you’re there," he says, "but people are most likely to average out the quality of the things you say." In this article, Markman provides tips for quickly evaluating both your prepared ideas and on-the-spot brainstorms for their value in a particular meeting.

Both articles provide wise advice for planners and their staffs as they go about their own team meetings, and also for the attendees of the meetings they plan.

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