Imagine the meeting is happening…
What’s going on in the meeting?
– Were you on time?
– How are you dressed? Smell good?
– Are you making eye contact?
– Did you smile?
– Was your handshake firm?
– Take note of your speech patterns. Do you sound confident? Are you using a lot of vocal pauses? Are you enthusiastic or are the other person’s eyes glazing over? What about your use of gestures?
– How do you behave while another person is speaking? Do you give them your attention or are you busy thinking about your next points?
– Do you pick up on social cues that denote that you’ve been talking for too long or that what you’re saying isn’t interesting? Perhaps you can observe if you’ve just made someone uncomfortable?
– Are you prepared? Are you taking notes appropriately? Did you come with an apparent agenda for the meeting even if it’s in your head?
– If there was a presentation involved, did you use your best public speaking skills? How about your inclusion of technology? Did it go smoothly?
– Do you have a business card?
– Make sure your phone is turned off.
– Can you answer questions posed to you about the topic at hand?
– If necessary, are action items in place prior to departing from the meeting? Did you provide a means of follow up?
This is all a part of your Presence. When someone meets you, what do they get? Are you polished, poised, and professional or are you a bit of a mess? Do you come off in person in a way that gets across your desired self message? Fit is important and the in-person meeting gives someone the opportunity to figure out whether or not you will fit the current/desired culture of the organization. Is your presence in alignment with your Pre-Presence?
Some would tell you to do lots of research in order to make yourself fit within the norms of an organization. That might be good advice but I would caution you to not force yourself into an uncomfortable box. I knew that if I ever desired a retail job, I could never work at Urban Outfitters,Abercrombie & Fitch, or Hot Topic but I could work at J.Crew, The Gap, or Banana Republic. Those places naturally fit me and my personal brand.
Presence is the strongest component of your brand. This is when you get to connect and live your brand out loud. What does your Presence say about you? Understand that what you bring to that room will also have lingering effects and might be dissected by others especially if this was an interview. Mock interviews are a smart way to practice and always rehearse your presentations in front of other people for honest feedback.
There are students who show up in my office that are well dressed, polite, enthusiastic, prepared, and ready to engage in a great discussion. They have an action plan for our meeting, relevant questions, and action items. They give us time to meet and don’t rush away after 10 mins of blabbering. Then there are the students who haven’t showered,are ill prepared, obviously don’t feel that this meeting is worth their attention, and don’t really have a lot of time to chat despite their intent of asking me for my time to help them or their student organization. Which of those students do you think I keep in mind for special events and when it is time to recommend people for awards? Which of those students do you think I’m willing to go above and beyond to support in achieving their goals?
The way you show up in a space is beyond important. Present your best self and reap the rewards.