When it comes to business meetings, there seems to be some unspoken rules in regards to meeting etiquette. While there is no set of rules etched in stone somewhere in the high halls of some university or ancient library, it can be said that the following guidelines are a general rule of thumb. It boils down to respect, courtesy and professionalism. Generally speaking, it’s all about common sense and basic common courtesy but time and time again, some need to be reminded about proper meeting etiquette. Here’s looking at you, Mike from accounting.
Punctuality – It goes without saying, but if you can’t be there 10-15 minutes early, which is recommended, at least be there on time. There’s nothing worse than embarrassing yourself by missing any of the meeting. Then you’re behind and have no frame of reference for the rest of the meeting and you’ve wasted everyone’s time, including senior management. And don’t think they didn’t notice.
Preparedness – Along with being punctual, if you aren’t prepared, chances are you are wasting everyone’s time yet again. Often, meetings have scheduled time slots and your part is vital in the entire flow of the meeting. Not having your materials or information together can really affect the meeting, not to mention it comes off as unprofessional. Again, you are only hurting yourself here.
Pay Attention – Be attentive during the meeting. Take notes and listen to what everyone is saying. Do not interrupt the speaker. If you have a question, unless it is an open discussion, try to wait it out because your question will most likely be answered by the end of the meeting. Do not fiddle on your phone or check email. It is terribly unprofessional.
Electronics – Unless the use of laptops, tablets or cell phones is vital to the meeting or agreed upon as necessary to take notes, show graphics or slideshows, etc., there is absolutely no reason to be on your device during the proceedings. An emergency call should be the only reason to take a call and even then, excuse yourself and take it out of the room. Keep it turned off or at the least, on vibrate with the volume off.
Conversation – Refrain from having conversation with other people in the middle of the meeting. It is rude and disrespectful of those around you. Save your need to comment or chat until after it is over. Red flag if you even think about putting your hand up to cover your mouth to throw a comment to the person next to you.
Distractions – Electronics are a distraction as it is, but there are still the little quirky things that people do that are inappropriate when it comes to meeting etiquette. Don’t tap your pen or foot or fingers in any manner. Don’t eat a snack or your lunch. Don’t bite your fingernails either. Also, no fidgeting or shuffling papers in a distracting manner either.
Act exactly how you would want others to when you are in the spotlight. Use your brain and common sense. Be professional and courteous to those in the meeting. It can really affect everyone involved and can have an even worse effect on your job. Remember, be professional.