You’re sitting at your desk checking email then a meeting invite hits your box.
“Oh no! I have a ton of things to do today. My boss wants this report by nine o’clock…. I have a conference call to prepare for by 1pm. There’s absolutely no way I can attend this meeting.
Wait a minute… What’s on the agenda? Why did he wait until the last minute to send this notice? What does the meeting have to do with me?
Darn it! It’s mandatory.
I sure hope they are brief,” you think to yourself.
Meetings, everybody loves them… Wrong! Most of us can probably think of a gazillion things that we need to do instead of going to yet another meeting. There are valid reason why people dread meetings. Let’s see… Are your work meetings boring? Unprofessional? Or a time-sink?
Believe it or not, nobody really wants to go to a meeting to be lectured or listen to the same person gabble on (and on) for hours. Right?
Some of the savviest professionals do not know how to conduct successful business meetings. To make matters worse, some employees simply do not understand that how you conduct yourself can make or break your career.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running the meeting or just attending, knowing how to conduct yourself in a professional and respectful manner among your colleagues, bosses, customers, and (potential) clients is vital. Do you dread small talk at meetings because your conversation typically falls flat? What should you wear? Should you answer your cell phone or text during the meeting? Here are 15 business meeting etiquette rules that professionals need to know:
1. Mingle with others before the meeting starts.
If the opportunity presents itself, go up to people and introduce yourself. If everyone doesn’t know one another in the meeting room, make introduction, starting with the person of the highest rank.
2. Be concise.
Say what you need to say in as few words as necessary. Don’t repeat yourself or give unnecessary information.
3. Initiate the handshake if you’re the higher-ranking person or host.
The host or the higher-ranking person, regardless of gender should extend their hand first.
4. Always stand when you’re being introduced to someone.
Standing helps establish your presence. It’s easy for others to ignore you if you don’t stand.
5. Be on time.
Make sure you arrive on time. You don’t want to waste anyone else’s time by not being punctual.
6. Sit appropriately.
Adjust your chair so that you’re at equal height with everyone else at the table. Both men and women should avoid crossing their legs because it can be distracting and even too sexy for a professional setting.
7. Dress appropriately.
Clothing can enhance a person’s professional reputation or detract from his or her credibility. Always find out what the dress code is and make sure your attire falls within the guidelines.
8. Never pull out someone’s chair for them.
It’s okay to hold open a door for your guest, but in a business setting, you should leave those social gender rules behind.
9. Come prepared.
Know what the meeting is covering beforehand and know your part. Be prepared to ask and answer questions.
10. Have a strong agenda.
If you’re the one running the meeting, it’s imperative that you stay on track. If you do digress, make sure to have a colleague who will steer you back in the right direction.
11. Speak up and speak early.
Speak loudly enough so that everyone hears what you’re saying. Find some meaningful comment to add in the beginning of the meeting so people know you are there.
12. Understand the unwritten speaking rules.
It’s not polite to interrupt others, but in some meetings, you have to interrupt at some point or you won’t be heard. Understand the rules so that you can have a productive meeting.
13. You can drink coffee or water, but avoid eating anything else.
Unless it’s a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting – avoid eating at the table. You will likely make disruptive noises or give off smells. Clean up after yourself and leave things the way you found them.
14. Do not have your phone out.
Do not keep your phone on the table during a meeting; it can get distracting if it starts lighting up or making noises. Leave the room if you absolutely must take the call or return a text.
15. Don’t save all your questions for the end.
Ask your questions at the appropriate time. Don’t start asking questions and adding stuff that doesn’t need to be added when everyone’s getting ready to go. You don’t want to be “that” person.
These tips should help employees maintain a positive, professional image while in a business meeting. To learn more, check out The Essentials of Business Etiquette by Barbara Pachter. Her book is an amusing and informative quick read that workers will enjoy.
Thanks to Samantha Lee, a graphic designer for Business Insider, there’s a nifty infographic with these etiquette rules too. Just right click the image to save it.
So, what do you think about these business etiquette rules? Do you have any other tips that you would add? Please comment, like, and share.