28 Oct 2019

10 meeting etiquette rules every business professional should follow

It’s fairly simple to navigate through life with good manners and social conventions. Nevertheless, it’s something that we have started learning from an early age – sit straight, be polite, etc.

Just like our everyday life, being professional is not intuitive and is something that we need to learn. That’s where the meeting etiquette comes in life. Management Study Guide has a nice definition of what meeting etiquette is:

“Meeting Etiquette refers to codes of behavior an individual ought to follow while attending meetings and discussions at the workplace.”

Why do we need the meeting etiquette?

It’s important to leave a good impression especially on your clients and business partners. That’s why we need to keep on top of our minds some social conventions appropriate for the specific situation.

By following those social norms, we will ensure our meetings run smoothly and effectively.

Meet the rules

Bring a pen!

What, you still want us to write notes on paper? Well, yes. Computers are way easier and intuitive but have you ever sat in a meeting, discussing something while someone else just kept typing? The sound of the keyboard is distracting and becomes annoying over time. We want everyone to keep their focus on the conversation. Not to mention that it’s quite tempting to check your Facebook if a meeting becomes stale.

Don’t rely on others to take notes for everyone. It’s necessary to write your own notes since you’ll be the one doing the follow-up work assigned to you. Someone else might see importance in different things and won’t create notes to the extent you need.

Be on time

Make sure you are not running late. I know the traffic is the worst in the morning but honestly, you know it too. It’s important to correctly estimate how long it takes to get to the meeting. Better to arrive early and have some spare time for preparing, than rushing in 5 minutes after the start.

The world is run by those who show up on time.

Speak loud and clear

This is especially important where there are many attendees at a meeting. The small chatter, although rude, is quite often. Make sure you speak loud and clear so that everyone can hear, and most importantly, understand you. Speaking softly also gives a bad impression, making you seem less professional and unsure of your opinion. And it’s the last thing you want on that meeting with your boss.

Put your phone away

That one is really hard especially when your meetings are extremely long. Do you have any emergency emails, calls, or has someone liked your photo? Not all is lost if you attend to the matter as soon as you can – and that is after the meeting.

Make sure to turn off notifications, which can become another annoying distraction for everyone. Even the phone light can become distracting and honestly, it’s the vortex that’s going to steal you away from at least half of a meeting.

Read the agenda

Come prepared, educate yourself on the matter of the meeting. If it’s not important for you then you wouldn’t have been invited in the first place. You are expected to contribute ideas and engage in fruitful discussions on Q4 goals, product development, financials or anything else that’s right down your alley. Haven’t received the agenda? Ask politely to get it or if there’s no agenda, at least get information on what are the objectives of the meeting.

Ask questions

It’s something most people forget or wait until the end. If it’s not said explicitly that any questions should be held until the end, ask them whenever there’s a need for discussion. Those questions are what makes meetings worth attending – the materials can be read at home. Remember to ask them in a polite way and not to hold back if you don’t understand something. That’s why your there, to be on the same page as everyone else attending.

light bulb on a black chalkboard

Clean up after yourself

Have you been tearing off pages from your notebook? Or eating a croissant, while spilling a bit of coffee. It’s fine to eat/drink when offered but it’s not fine to leave a mess behind. When the meeting is over, make sure to leave your place at the table as you found it. If you’re not sure where to put any trash, simply ask the host.

Be a good listener

Sure, you are there to speak. But listening is more than 50% of what you’re going to say next. Without listening there are a few scenarios that can easily happen – a misunderstanding of someone’s point, wrong interpretation or worse, speaking about something that was already chewed on and decided upon. You’re not only embarrassing yourself, but also wasting everyone else’s time.

Follow the dress code

Are you attending a weekly sync or a board meeting? It’s important to dress appropriately. There’s nothing wrong wearing casual clothes, but wear them smart. Want to get your financial plan approved? You better come in dressed as sharp as you can – for the ones willing to go the extra mile, some fake glasses will make you look especially smart.

Don’t bring any additional guests

There’s a reason there are not open invitation meetings or openly announced meetings. Not only because of the confidentiality but because people sitting at the meeting are carefully chosen based on their skills and knowledge. Too many people can lead to lengthy, almost neverending meetings. Not to mention the risk of stirring the discussion in the wrong direction because someone is out of place and needs to be filled in. However, if you feel you’re not the right one and it’s only a waste of everyone’s time, let the host of the meeting know and suggest who to invite instead of you. I can assure you, the gest like this is going to be much appreciated.

Want to learn more about handling your meeting effectively? Read more about creating meeting minutes.