No, you’re not the centre of attention during meetings. You do, however, need to recognise the significance of your contributions and responsibilities and act accordingly.
Some may be reluctant to put themselves forward during meetings with questions or recommendations, on the basis that your role is one of support.
If that’s the approach you’ve taken to date, it may be worth also considering your role in the context of your obligation to the organisation and its need for clear, concise records.
Think of it this way: you prepare complete and accurate agenda packages in alignment with your organisation’s practices and in the interest of ensuring the success of a meeting. You do your advance reading to ensure you understand the context of deliberations, which positions you to record relevant, accurate minutes. All such steps reflect your responsibility to your employer or organisation.
Likewise, your degree of participation once a meeting is underway should also reflect support of meeting success, and your executive’s/employer’s preferences.
Start with a conversation with your executive or Chair
Does your executive/Chair want you to have voice during meetings? If so, ensure that the other participants understand this. Otherwise, there’s potential for them to view it as inappropriate when you offer insights or guidance. You can do your best by your organisation if all participants are aware that it is appropriate for you to speak up when appropriate.
If your executive affords you voice at the table, ensure this is known
Then, if you find meeting participants heading down a path based on an incorrect assumption, people will be unsurprised to find you executing your responsibility by respectfully speaking up and graciously providing accurate information – either to the Chair, or the group at large.
If you’re having difficulty hearing a low talker, others may be experiencing the same challenge
There are no doubt occasions when you find an individual’s voice quiet or unclear. If it’s not just a matter of your hearing capacity, chances are that others are experiencing the same challenge. What to do? If you are responsible for seating plans, you can consistently seat a quiet speaker in a location that maximises capacity to hear and record a quiet speaker. You may do all involved a professional courtesy, though, by constructively and tactfully approaching the quiet person offline to encourage him/her to speak with more volume.
Despite best intentions, plans may be muddied rather than lucid
Discussions and debate can sometimes unfold at a rapid pace. If that’s the case, and direction is unclear, you perform best if you are prepared to seek clarity. Commitment-based management (CbM) acts on the acknowledgement that meetings sometimes conclude with mixed perceptions of what’s been decided. To counter that challenge, CbM practitioners will summarise individual and collective commitments at the conclusion of a meeting.
If this isn’t in place in your organisation, and an outcome is unclear, respectfully seek an opportunity to seek your own clarity. Then, paraphrase or ask questions to ensure you resolve uncertainties that adversely impact your capacity to produce solid minutes.
Uncomfortable with Speaking Up?
If you have your executive’s support for this, but tend to feel intimidated by all the experts around the table, it may help to again treat this in the context of what’s best for the organisation. In other articles on this site, I write about facing such fears and learning from some of the best. Think about speaking up from the perspective of your professional responsibilities, and you’ll find yourself owning your role when recording.