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How can I be more active in meetings and earn the respect of senior engineers?

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Junior Software Engineer [IC2] at Reddit2 years ago

My manager has given me feedback that I could be more active in meetings, which would help me find my place within the team. However, I find it hard to participate in meetings a lot of the time, because I don't know the technical source material they're talking about. This leads to me learning as I'm in the meeting, and I don't have any remaining mental bandwidth to speak up.

When it comes to meeting types, I'm good with those like retros and brainstorms but those that are more technical like tech reviews and project planning can be hard to a large voice in.

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  • 12
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • Do homework before the meeting as essentially a "cheat code" to offset your lack of knowledge, especially when compared to more senior engineers. Go through the agenda of the meeting beforehand and seriously think about its topics. From there, seed insights and deep thoughts that you have and bring them up during the meeting. I recommend writing these down.
    • If the meeting doesn't have a super clear agenda, ask the meeting owner politely for one. This will level up the meeting for everybody!
    • A misconception I see a lot among earlier-in-career engineers is they feel this pressure to only speak up in a meeting if they have something they think is super insightful and missed by the other meeting members. This is too high a bar to clear and not the case. You can add a lot of value by asking questions. For example, if you're not entirely sure why a specific approach is being taken in a tech review meeting, you can ask something like, "n00b question, but I don't fully understand why we chose A instead of B. Can you explain the trade-offs here more?"
    • A perhaps even easier way to contribute to meetings is by tagging on to something that was said instead of saying a new thing entirely. So let's say a senior engineer says they like doing X, and you really resonate with that option. You can say something like, "I also really like X as it handles ABC issues.", and ABC could be benefits of X that weren't mentioned in the meeting. This also builds respect/social capital as who doesn't like someone agreeing with them

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  • 6
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    Write down a core question/discussion point on a sticky note before walking into the meeting.

    I sometimes get lost/sucked into the discussion of the meeting, and never say anything. But the sticky note provides an anchor to a say something which is relevant.