Tell me how you sit and I will tell you if you are listening
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For a lifetime until now I participated to a big number of conferences and I would list here briefly 5 things that mustn’t be done and some operational suggestions about the posture that has to be taken in order to be always ready during a conference.
1. Do not stretch your legs under the table. Only the one who leads the conference could have such a behaviour and it should be better he hadn’t it at all, or if he is not able to do without it, he has to do it in the last part of the conference to let understand that the key points have already been identified and that he is proceeding to define the very last details.
2. Do not keep always the crossed arms. This kind of position seems to be a signal of closure and it would give the feeling that you disagree with what has been said or, worse, that you are rigid facing any kind of possible change.
3. Do not have the elbow leaned on the table. The position of one with the elbow leaned on the table and maybe that he is sustaining his head with the fist or the open hand is the classic signal of boring. It is absolutely recommended not to do it during a conference where it is supposed that everyone should give his contribution.
4. Do not drum your fingers and do not play with the objects. These gestures make the one that does them distract himself, but can also make another colleague curious and distract him as well.
5. Do not stuff yourself of drinks and food. I will explain this point with a personal nice anecdote. Sometime ago I participated to a conference to the JPMorgan Chase & Co headquarters, and the manager director’s assistant prepared kindly a beautiful conference room with different kind of drinks and titbit (there was fifteen different drinks!). Unfortunately a participant enjoyed so much tasting the various snacks and drinks that distract himself in the most important points of the conference losing the consultation, that was assigned to another one. There are cases in which a simple chocolate can cost thousands of euro.
Practical suggestions: it is convenient to keep a simple position, but opened. So you have to sit done up, with the legs fixed in front of the chair, bended at 90 degrees, without putting them under the chair, because otherwise it would be an escape position. You have to keep the back straight with the hands folded on the table, having always a notebook or some supporting device like an ipad to take some notes so to have something where noting on the most important conceptual passages not to lose the line of the discussion.
Eventually keep always in your mind that it is true the rule that if one is done up he seems to follow, but especially it’s true the contrary that if one put himself in a position that allow to listen, also the brain is stimulated to reconnect to the conversation and to follow.
Milan, 5th May 2017