[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAbfWIy2244?rel=0&hd=1&w=560&h=346]The Script Cat: In meetings, some people are afraid that if they open their mouths, they'll show off their lack of technical skill. So they just listen and take a lot of notes. But you know that old saying "90 percent of life is showing up?" That's exactly what everyone in the room has already done. Here's how you can do more than just show up. I'm Cat Miller, and this is DiceTV. To be effective in a meeting, you need an agenda. Not the one provided by the organizer, but your own list of what you want to accomplish. Go in without that, and it's pretty certain you're not going to have much influence. But prepare, and your voice will be heard, and you'll be able to measure the outcome. There's an old rule of thumb in the theatre: Start big, because you can always tone it down. This directly translates to the conference room. The longer you wait to speak, the less impact you'll have. The moral: You need to participate early. If you genuinely feel like you don't know enough to express an intelligent opinion, ask questions. Seat location is as crucial as speaking up early. Try to sit directly across from the chairperson. If they're at the end of the table, sit three spaces down on either side. From this spot, you can talk to the chair without anyone having to lean out of the way, and you'll speak loudly enough to be heard by the rest of the attendees. After the meeting, take five minutes back at your desk to write down what you did right, and what you could have done better. These are private notes - just for you. They'll help you set a personal benchmark for the next meeting. Get better at meetings, and they won't be lost blocks of time anymore. You'll put your stamp on them and you'll have a better understanding of what your team is doing because you were really listening. I'm Cat Miller, this has been DiceTV, and we now return you to your regular desktop.