Face-to-face meetings are valuable opportunities to engage with colleagues, foster innovation, and tackle challenges. However, navigating the intricacies of work meetings in unfamiliar settings or with new participants can be a real puzzle. To ensure you leave a lasting impression of professionalism, it’s wise to revisit some essential working tips before your next gathering. These business meeting etiquette dos and don’ts will help you appear more professional and poised during in-person meetings.
Business Meeting Etiquette Dos and Don’ts to Keep in Mind
Meetings present an opportunity to leave a lasting mark on your colleagues and superiors, particularly those you may not interact with on a daily basis. Seize this moment to distinguish yourself by showcasing your professionalism and readiness. It’s a chance to shine and stand out from the crowd.
Do Establish and Maintain an Agenda
An agenda is essential for maintaining order in a meeting and providing participants with a clear understanding of its core subjects in advance, thus preventing any potential confusion. Boost your and your team’s efficiency by crafting a straightforward agenda that specifies time allocations for each agenda item.
Delegate responsibilities to team members beforehand. This ensures they arrive prepared with reports or data for the meeting’s smooth progression.
Furthermore, pay attention to the importance of your personal pre-meeting preparations. Ensure you’ve done your pre-meeting homework to present new information and actively engage in the discussion.
Do Prepare Your Essentials
No one enjoys needless delays caused by a search for misplaced items. Maintain the meeting’s momentum by ensuring you have all the necessary supplies and equipment.
If you’re the presenter, double-check that you have your notes, slides, laptop, charger, and any other essential materials. As an attendee, it’s a good practice to have a notebook, multiple pens, your laptop, and its charger to be fully prepared for the meeting.
Do Arrive on Time
Undoubtedly, being on time is a fundamental business meeting etiquette dos and don’ts. It does not only showcase your respect for others but also cultivates a positive image among your colleagues.
Arriving at every meeting about five minutes early is a prudent approach. This allows you to come composed and ready to engage. If you’re the host or responsible for the presentation and equipment setup, consider an even earlier arrival.
While you may think your colleagues will understand a slight delay caused by a quick coffee stop, it can inadvertently signal a lack of consideration for their time. Furthermore, those who arrive promptly often enjoy the chance to connect and network with fellow early birds, opening doors to unforeseen opportunities through casual conversations.
Don’t Eat During the Meeting
Refrain from eating during the meeting. Although it might appear inconsequential to indulge in a snack during your regular meetings, eating can generate unnecessary noise and divert attention. Moreover, it can hinder your ability to contribute to the discussion. This may also lead to uncomfortable moments if called upon while you have food in your mouth.
Drinking water is typically acceptable, but ensure your sips are discreet and minimal. Many face-to-face meetings also permit coffee or tea consumption but exercise caution to prevent any spillage. Remember, it’s best not to delay the meeting by running late for a last-minute coffee run. Remember this business meeting etiquette dos and don’ts.
Don’t Discourage Openness and Engagement
While maintaining focus on the meeting’s agenda, it’s important not to stifle creativity or enjoyment. Instead of discouraging ideas, suggest that participants list off-topic thoughts and share them post-meeting. This approach, known as the “parking lot” method, ensures these ideas are addressed appropriately.
Remember that meetings need not be mechanical and devoid of vitality. Encourage a certain degree of banter and conversation, as an engaged workforce leads to productivity. According to businesstown.com, meetings should stay on track for “90-95 percent of the time while allowing for 5-10 percent to accommodate tangential discussions or personal anecdotes.” This balance fosters a dynamic and productive meeting environment.
Don’t Speak Softly
Effective communication is the cornerstone of productive meetings. When you have the floor, enunciate your words and speak loud enough to ensure your message reaches every participant in the room without strain. Clear, audible communication not only exudes confidence but also projects a professional image. This sets the tone for a successful discussion.
Speaking too softly can make you appear timid and lead to frequent requests for repetitions or clarifications. This can disrupt the meeting’s flow and sometimes cause essential points to be missed. To keep meetings on track and ensure everyone’s contributions are heard, maintaining a strong and clear voice is critical.
Don’t Ignore Your Nonverbal Communication
During long meetings, it’s common to feel restless. However, it’s essential to be mindful of certain habits that, though seemingly innocuous, can disrupt the meeting flow and convey unintended messages of disinterest. Keep an eye out for these behaviors:
- Tapping pens- The rhythmic sound of pen-tapping can divert attention and become a distraction.
- Fidgeting- Constantly adjusting your seat, playing with objects, or restless movements can detract from the discussion.
- Swiveling your chair side to side- This can not only create noise but also give the impression of inattentiveness.
- Tapping your feet- Audible foot-tapping can disrupt the concentration of others in the meeting.
- Rustling papers- Frequent paper shuffling can be distracting and make it difficult for others to follow.
- Making quiet noises like humming or clicking- Even low-volume sounds can disrupt the meeting’s flow and suggest disengagement.
Although these actions may seem insignificant at your desk, in a meeting setting, they can affect the focus and engagement of both presenters and fellow participants. Being mindful of your nonverbal cues is a simple yet effective way to maintain a respectful and attentive atmosphere during the meeting. Always keep in mind this business meeting etiquette dos and don’ts.
Do Master the Art of Active Listening
Dedicating your complete attention to a meeting is a fundamental show of respect. It can be disheartening when you’re speaking and your audience is absorbed in their phones or shuffling restlessly.
To foster a productive meeting atmosphere, engage in active listening. This entails not only hearing but also demonstrating your attentiveness by occasionally nodding in agreement, maintaining eye contact with the speaker, and reflecting on what’s being said in future interactions. Not only does active listening help you retain valuable information, but it also portrays you as a supportive and reliable team member.
Meeting efficiency significantly impacts a company’s productivity and success. One of the key drivers of meeting efficiency is the conduct of meeting attendees. Adhering to a set of business meeting etiquette dos and don’ts can enable you to showcase professionalism and leadership traits. This could also help to advance your career.