What’s happening? How relevant is this conversation to me?? What am I doing in this meeting???
These questions we often ask ourselves during some or other meeting conducted. Most of the time, agenda of the meeting convince you to attend it but after entering the meeting you realise, you have no role there. The conversation happening there is either not at the stage where you can contribute or taken different route where you are no longer required. Many times, you are involved just because the meeting host have thought that you would be required too.
Finding yourself in a meeting you were not supposed to attend can be awkward and challenging. Senior managers and other respected people are part of the meeting. It’s a catch22 situation. Attending the meeting would be waste of time and leaving abruptly would not look good too. Now what? How to escape from it?
Assess the Situation
Before making any decisions, take a moment to assess the situation. Consider the importance and relevance of the meeting to your role and responsibilities. If it becomes clear that your presence is unnecessary, you can proceed with confidence knowing that your exit will not significantly impact the meeting’s outcome.
Take Notes Discreetly
While in the meeting, make the most of your time by taking notes discreetly. Engage in active listening and jot down key points or actions that may be relevant to your work. This approach allows you to appear engaged while ensuring that you capture important information for future reference.
Plan With A Confidant
If you anticipate being in a situation where you might accidentally find yourself in a meeting, it can be helpful to inform a trusted colleague in advance. Share your concern and ask them to assist you in discreetly reminding you to exit if they notice you’re present when you shouldn’t be.
Find a Natural Break
Look for a natural break in the meeting where it feels appropriate to excuse yourself. This could be when a topic concludes or when someone summarizes key points. Finding the right moment will minimize any disruption and help you exit smoothly.
Excuse Yourself Politely
Once you’ve identified a natural break, politely excuse yourself from the meeting. You can say something like, “I apologize for the interruption. It appears that my presence in this meeting is not necessary at this point. If there are any specific points or actions that require my input, please let me know. Otherwise, I will review the meeting notes and follow up accordingly.” By being polite and considerate, you demonstrate respect for others’ time and contributions.
Prepare An Excuse
Prior to the meeting, have a plausible excuse ready that can justify your departure. It could be a conflicting appointment, an urgent phone call, or a pressing deadline. When you feel it’s the right time, discreetly communicate your excuse to the meeting organizer or a trusted colleague seated nearby.
Pass A Note
If you’re seated close to someone you trust, consider passing them a discreet note explaining your situation and request their assistance in relaying your need to exit the meeting. This can help avoid any unnecessary attention or disruption.
Use Technology As An Ally
Leverage technology to your advantage. Send a brief message or email from your phone to a colleague or the meeting organizer, expressing your apologies and reasons for leaving. This approach allows you to exit without causing a disturbance and provides an immediate explanation.
Let’s understand, the time can be created only by saving it. The time wasted in unproductive meetings can be utilised for some other productive work or break. Just make sure that you handle it well. By being discreet, prepared, and considerate, you can exit the meeting without disturbing anyone and maintain positive professional relationships.