Business Etiquette: Meetings

March 11, 2013  |  Posted by in Communication Skills, Leadership Development, Sales Training

This topic seems so basic, yet is a leading source of irritation and inefficiency in the work place. The primary goal of general business etiquette is to convey respect and consideration, but the effect of applying these principles to meeting planning and participation also ensures optimal productivity. The key is to recognize the time and energy that all participants invest any meeting. Since both are precious commodities in today’s hectic business world, it is worth considering how to make the most of these gatherings:

As a Meeting Organizer:

Define Purpose & Goals –Don’t send out meeting invitations until you clearly and concisely define the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting, and then state this information in the invitation.

Set a Realistic and Considerate Timeframe – Running over the time allotted for your meeting shows a lack of consideration for your participants. Doing so consistently undermines your credibility. If the topic is broad and requires more than an hour, you might want to chunk it down into sub topics that can be addressed in an hour or less.

Define and Communicate Role of Invited Attendees – If you want attendees to contribute thoughtful input, you need to state that clearly and give them time to prepare. You will never get people’s best input “off the cuff.” On the other hand, if your purpose for calling a meeting is simply to share information, you should let invitees know that they are coming to listen.

Provide an Agenda – An agenda goes a long way in helping meeting attendees know what to expect and, more importantly, prepare for productive contribution. The agenda should include meeting purpose/goals, timeframe and role of attendees. If possible, provide the agenda several days before your meeting.

Prep Ahead – Be sure the meeting room and materials are prepped and ready prior to the published meeting start time. It is inconsiderate and wasteful to make attendees wait while you make copies, set up equipment or upload your presentation.

Provide for Breaks – For meetings that last more than one hour, and particularly for all day or multi-day meeting events, build in breaks at regular intervals to allow attendees to check messages, get refreshments, etc. This will greatly reduce the disruption of attendees leaving “as needed.”

As a Meeting Attendee:

Be Punctual – Arriving late to any scheduled event is rude. If there is a reason you will need to arrive after the official meeting start time or leave early, let the meeting host know ahead of time to ensure that it is acceptable.

Put the phone away! – This is by far the greatest offense in business meetings today. Do not monitor emails or text messages while in a meeting. It is extremely rude and disrespectful, and one cannot attend fully to meeting discussion/presentation while reading his/her phone. If you are expecting an important phone call that cannot be missed, talk to the meeting host before the meeting begins.

Be Engaged – When you accept a meeting invitation, you are committing your time, attention and contribution to the session. View your participation as a responsibility, not a favor. This applies regardless of your rank or that of the person hosting the meeting. If you don’t think you should be included in the meeting, indicate that to the organizer – privately and prior to the meeting time. Don’t bring other work to the session. Don’t strike up side conversations with other meeting attendees.

Be Prepared – If the meeting organizer has indicated assignments or other preparation for the meeting, it is your responsibility to fulfill that request. Failure to do so undermines the productivity of the meeting and wastes the time and effort of everyone else in attendance.

Consider your current meeting etiquette. How does your practice compare with the behaviors outlined above? Is your meeting etiquette better with customers than with internal team members? Applying meeting etiquette in all circumstances will strengthen business relationships and improve productivity.

All content and training concepts are the intellectual property of Carew International, Inc., and any reference to these concepts must include a statement of express ownership by Carew International, Inc.


Learn More about Carew International

Carew International can support your organization's performance improvement goals.