Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: meetings

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to meetings.

Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive!

Most people will agree that meetings can be one of the more brutally time-consuming parts of one’s day. There’s nothing worse than having to sit through a meeting with a client’s team, discussing matters that don’t pertain to your project or going in circles on the same subject.

Depending on your role as an IT contractor, you may have little control over how a meeting is facilitated and you must suffer through it. Other times, though, you can plan how the meeting is run and which process tools will be used to ensure it’s productive.

You never want the other people on your team thinking that your meetings are dull and useless, so you should always consider new ideas. Take a look at this extensive infographic about running meetings from Active Presence. It describes 16 proven process tools for effective meeting facilitation. Use it to increase your team’s productivity by either implementing some ideas into your meetings, or casually slipping it under the door of the manager who keeps wasting your time.

Believe It or Not, Meetings CAN Be Productive!

How to Improve Your Meetings (Infographic)

How much time do you waste on useless meetings? Most people will tell you too much and, for independent contractors, wasted time can have negative consequences. Not only will your projects fall behind, but you also lose out on time doing work you may have committed to doing for other clients. Eventually, all of that creeps into your personal time and you find yourself consumed in work all because of inefficient meetings. Then there’s the fact that clients will start questioning all of the hours you’re charging when, in their eyes, little progress is being made.

Certainly, everybody can work harder to improve their meetings and step up efficiencies. You may not know where to start, you may think your practices are already “good enough,” or you may be somewhere in between. Regardless of where you fall, check out this infographic from Meetin.gs to for some pointers to help you in your next team meeting.

Improve you meetings infographic

The Struggles of a Subject Matter Expert

Here’s some Friday humour that anybody who’s been a subject matter expert on a technology project will relate to. Sometimes, regardless of how many times you explain a concept to a client and/or a Project Manager, or that their exact request is simply not possible, they refuse to hear you and continue to throw out non-sense suggestions on how you should do the work. If this is relatable, you’ll love this video published by Lauris Beinerts. If you don’t relate (or if you’re the client or Project Manager), you should still watch this video.

Be Confident, Not Arrogant, in Your Next Interview

Be Confident, Not Arrogant, in Your Next InterviewLast summer, we shared stats from a survey of Eagle’s recruiters identifying “Arrogance” as one of the top traits that drive them nuts in an interview. Other surveys have also revealed that being conceited is a simple way to move onto a recruiter’s do-not-call list.

The challenge with advice like “Don’t be arrogant,” is that people rarely know they’re guilty of it. In fact, in many situations, a recruiter may be mistaking a candidate’s nervousness or confidence for egotism. How, then, can you ensure that in your next interview you appear confident and knowledgeable, but not so over-confident that you shed arrogance? Here are a few areas of focus:

It starts when you walk in the door.

Your body language and other small nuances can affect how clients and recruiters think of you from the moment you arrive. For example:

  • Arrive early — Failure to arrive on time can send the message that you think your time is more important than theirs.
  • Dress simply — Of course you need to look professional, but over-dressing can give the wrong impression.
  • Be aware of body language — Looking somebody in the eyes and smiling (not too much, that’s creepy) goes a long way compared to frowning and looking bored. Remember to pay attention to simple gestures. Pointing or crossing your arms can inadvertently give off a condescending vibe.
  • Remember names and past discussions — These small talking points show somebody that they’re more than a potential paycheck, but you value the relationship.

Have meaningful 2-way discussions

You and your skills are the topic of the interview, but, as you already know, this meeting isn’t all about you. Show the interviewer you’re not self-centred:

  • Let them speak — Interrupting an interviewer is insulting, shows little respect, and screams arrogance.
  • Ask questions — This demonstrates that you’re open to learning new things and that you’re not a “know-it-all.”
  • Keep it positive — There will be disagreements and clarifications, but disputing everything an interviewer has to say or getting offended too easily will take the interview in the wrong direction.
  • Avoid overly-technical jargon — Great recruiters understand your skills, but if they knew everything you know, they’d be taking your contracts. Speaking to them too technically can appear as belittling or as an attempt to prove their ignorance.

Sell all dimensions of your experience

You are the common denominator in all of your successes, but you weren’t the only factor. Recruiters and clients know that there’s more to your success than just you, and they want to make sure you know it too.

  • Give examples of collaboration and team work — Talk about the other people on the team and why they were important.
  • Give credit to others – It can come across as far-fetched if you were the “hero” on every
  • Admit error – It’s also unbelievable that you never made a mistake. Identifying them and explaining how you fixed them is a humbling trait.
  • Don’t be too humble — Sorry for the contradiction. If you’re too humble, an interviewer may read that as fake and forced, trying to hide your arrogance.

Perception is everything. Even the most humble people can appear to be arrogant with the wrong cues, often stemmed by nerves or trying too hard. To simplify this entire article follow this one piece of advice: Always be polite!

These tips can be used in all interviews, with clients and recruiters, as well as meetings with any team. Is there anything you would add? Are there any other clues that cause you to find somebody as arrogant? Please share them in the comments below!

Be More Confident (Video)

How an Independent Contractor Can Be More Assertive and Get What You Want

Among many others, one of Mick Jagger’s famous lyrics says “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” We’re sure you’ve wanted to break this song out for a client or two in the past, but today, we’re going to focus on how that can help you, as an independent IT contractor.

There are few things more frustrating when you’re working on a project than when people won’t listen to your ideas – especially when it’s the best idea! As the Stones said, you may not always have it your way, but you can try, and often that “trying” just requires the right speech with strong confidence.

Some people are great with their words, where others can use some extra guidance in assertiveness. If you fall into the latter category, this video from watchwellcast may be right for you.

Business Meeting Etiquette Rules (Infographic)

For independent contractors, a business meeting can be anything from a project team update to a client debrief to an interview. It could be with a large group or it could be with just one or two other people. Regardless of the size or purpose of your meeting, proper etiquette is essential to maintain your professional brand.

Refresh your business meeting etiquette rules and make sure you haven’t picked up any of the bad habits in this infographic from Business Insider. Do you have any meeting pet peeves that they missed? Add them to the comments below.

Business Meeting Etiquette Rules (Infographic)

Tips for Running Effective Meetings

Love’em or hate’em, meetings are an essential part of the business world. We’ve all been in terrible meetings that are a waste of time and move nothing forward, but there are also those meetings that get everything right, and that’s no accident. It takes a good planning and proper leadership to have an effective meeting. If you’re not satisfied with the meetings you’ve hosted lately, take a look at this infographic from Intuit.  It has some fantastic suggestions.  Is there anything you’d add or remove?

Courtesy of: Intuit QuickBase

How to Host Productive Meetings

Independent contractors aren’t necessarily “independent” when it comes to work.  Whether it’s meeting with clients, project managers, or user groups, you’re always working with a variety of people and, as such, there’s no way to avoid countless meetings throughout a contract.

Many of us will probably agree, though, that meetings are costly.  They take up time and may not even accomplish anything, except potentially scheduling another useless meeting.

So, how can you make sure meetings aren’t wasting your time?  Let’s start by considering a few facts:

  • Meetings are necessary in any organization.
  • Most organizations are not very good at organizing, running and following up on meetings.
  • Most people who attend meetings are not 100% engaged, which wastes everybody’s time.
  • Most meetings don’t have a clear agenda, goals and desired outcomes.
  • Most meetings include people who don’t need to be there, many don’t include people who should be there.
  • When most meetings end, the participants very often walk away without another thought to what was discussed, and what was decided.
  • Many meetings result in the “genesis” of some very good ideas, but they go nowhere.

Productive MeetingAll of that considered, if you want to host productive meetings:

  1. Be very clear about what the meeting objective, together with a defined agenda and expected outcomes.  This exercise will also highlight whether the meeting is actually needed!
  2. All participants should be informed in plenty of time, armed with all of the background material necessary and arrive prepared.
  3. Everyone should understand the rules of the meeting. For example arrive on time, be prepared, phones turned off, total focus on the task at hand, input is expected and tolerance for everyone is also expected.  Group think is not expected or appreciated.
  4. Everyone should take notes, and one specific person should be assigned to take and distribute minutes.
  5. The meeting should not end before measurable action items are decided and assigned.
  6. If people are going to need to access phones during the meeting, then appropriate “intermission” time should be built in.
  7. Whoever is chairing the meeting should be skilled in (a) getting participation from the “quiet voices” and (b) ensuring the more extrovert participants don’t take over.
  8. Be very conscious that everyone’s time is precious!

Meetings solve problems, bring ideas, help companies get where they need to be, but they are expensive, so do them right! How do you keep meetings on track and productive?  What are your meeting pet peeves? We’d love to hear them.  Leave a comment below!