Business meetings can be formal or informal, catered in a boardroom or executed over a quick cup of coffee in the office canteen. However, if you are going to be attending a formal business meeting and have been invited as a guest, it is important to adhere to proper etiquette as a show of respect and to ensure the success of the meeting. Whether meeting attendees are in executive level positions, engineering jobs, finance positions, or in a support role, everyone should take cognizance of the following meeting rules:
The meeting organizer should send out a meeting agenda at least a week before the meeting day. The plan provides a framework for the purpose and progress of the meeting; sending it out in advance gives all participants the opportunity to voice their concerns or to contribute towards the agenda before the actual meeting. No plan means no real planning and the actual chance of wasting time.
Arrive on time
All meeting participants should be at the meeting location at least 10-15 minutes in advance. Being punctual is the first sign of respect, and it allows members to find their seats and get settled (pour refreshments and enjoy snacks) before the meeting begins.
If you are meant to present or contribute in the meeting, don’t just try to “wing it.” It is easy to see when an individual has not put any effort into his or her preparation, yet appreciated when a participant makes a meaningful contribution to the outcomes of the meeting.
While attire may not be mentioned on the meeting agenda, it is safe to assume that you cannot go wrong dressing business-smart for a boardroom-based meeting.
If participants are making presentations in the meeting, only talk when they open the floor for comment, or in the manner in which questions or comments are invited. Never interrupt when someone else is speaking.
Very often, any questions you may have about a particular topic will be answered by the speaker. Listen carefully and take notes while they are speaking – be 100% present in the meeting.
Laptops and iPads are accepted as in-use in a meeting, but if the agenda specifically calls for no technology, then respect that provision. Switch your cell phone off or at least turn it to silent. Let the meeting chairperson know if you are expecting an important call, then leave your phone on silent or vibrate. If your call comes through, exit the room as discreetly as possible to receive it.
If you have a nervous habit or repetitive behavior like tapping your foot, clicking your pen, or making noises with your mouth, be aware that these behaviors will be very disruptive to the meeting. If you are attentive to the meeting content, then these behaviors should be avoidable.