My Future

How To Chair A Meeting, And Other Things They Didn’t Teach Me At Uni

Prepare for the big, bad corporate world.

Summer break is here which means graduates are fixing up their resumes and kicking on with work experience to score a full-time gig (or maybe taking a gap year because hey, you got your whole life to work).

At this end of this year I would have completed my fourth year of full-time work. That equates to 2,083 cups of coffee, so much avocado on toast that I can’t afford to buy a house and more post-its than you can poke a stick at. Yeah, I guess you could call me a yuppie.

But once you hit the corporate world, you’ll realise there’s a lot of stuff they forgot to tell you in your degree. Here’s five things that closed the gap between my grade point average and the big black hole of my career.

1# Hunt Down The Org Chart

A company organisation chart is basically a family tree for the corporate world – and you’re adopted in! Welcome.

Nothing screams corporate more than long-winded titles and layers of management. Before you learn the office dynamics, you’ll need to know who everyone is, what they do and who they report to. Do your homework to avoid pulling confused faces in those Monday morning meetings.

#2 Nail Your Intro

First impressions matter. In any organisation, introductions are key to establishing your presence. Have a couple of words or a hilarious anecdote up your sleeve just in case someone (especially someone from senior management) asks you a little about yourself.

#3 Keep It To Corridor Conversations

I didn’t make this up. It’s the type of conversation you have on the run – unexpected and unrehearsed – but 100 per cent remembered.

So, if you’re caught in a corridor with one of those lucky people who spend their whole day in meetings then jackpot! You’ve got their attention (momentarily). These conversations may be fleeting – so even a smile and a quick hello is better than nothing.

#4 Learn How To Work With (And Appreciate) People

Remember those group assignments you loathed at university? Well you tend to do a lot more in the real world. Working well with people (not your distinction average) will be the bread and butter of your success, so pay attention to how you interact with your colleagues.

In group situations, listening and acknowledging everyone’s opinion is a step in the right direction. Although money, fame and fortune may be motivating factors, in the end, people motivate people.

#5 How To Chair A Meeting

This article would be a scam if I didn’t tell you how to chair a meeting.  Preparation is key, so send out an agenda a few days in advance.

Once it’s meeting time show time, the standard running order goes something like this:

  1. Kick off with a quick introduction – who you are and what you do.
  2. Briefly outline your agenda or objective.
  3. Run through any presentations if you need to.
  4. Wrap up with some time for discussion or Q&A.
  5. Close the meeting by outlining any follow up action items and next steps.

It may seem like a baptism of fire at first, but you’ll cherish your baby steps in the years to come. Since you don’t build up your credibility overnight, small opportunities matter.  We all have to start somewhere ­– even if it’s the humble coffee run.

Jessica Marcellienus enjoys writing and feeding ducks at the park in her spare time. She also looks forward to completing a law degree while working full-time in the aviation sector. Check out more of her stories here.

(Lead image: Step Brothers/Columbia Pictures)