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Business Meeting Etiquette

April 28, 2007

To those chairing or attending meetings in the Corporate World, or anywhere else, I thought I’d pass along these words of wisdom from an article by Gary M. Smith, called Eleven Commandments for Business Meeting Etiquette.

1. R.S.V.P. When asked via phone, email, or electronic calendar to attend business meeting, be sure to reply if reply is requested. Some meetings are structured and spaces secured on the basis of expected attendance.

2. Arrive Early. If this is not possible, arrive at the scheduled time at the latest—but never late. Do not assume that the beginning of a meeting will be delayed until all those planning to attend are present. If you arrive late, you risk missing valuable information and lose the chance to provide your input. Also, you should not expect others to fill you in during or after the meeting; everyone is busy, and those who were conscientious enough to arrive on time should not have to recap the meeting for you.

3. Come Prepared. Always bring something to write on as well as to write with. Meetings usually are called to convey information, and it is disruptive to ask others for paper and pen if you decide to take notes. If you know you will be presenting information, ensure that your handouts, view foils, PowerPoint slides, etc., are organized and ready.

4. Do Not Interrupt. Hold your comments to the speaker until the meeting has adjourned or until the speaker asks for comments, unless, of course, the speaker has encouraged open discourse throughout the meeting. Also, do not interrupt other attendees. Hold your comments to others in the meeting until after the meeting is adjourned. Conversation during a meeting is disruptive to other attendees and inconsiderate of the speaker.

5. Abstain from Electronics. As the notice posted at the beginning of films in movie theaters requests, “Please silence cell phones and pagers.” Activate voice mail if you have it, or forward messages to another phone.

6. Speak in Turn. When asking a question, it usually is more appropriate to raise your hand than to blurt out your question. Other attendees may have questions, and the speaker needs to acknowledge everyone.

7. Keep Your Questions Brief. When asking questions, be succinct and clear. If your question is detailed, break it into parts or several questions. But be sure to ask only one question at a time; others may have questions as well.

8. Pay Attention. Listen to the issues the speaker addresses, the questions from the attendees, and the answers provided. You do not want to waste meeting time asking a question that has already been asked.

9. Be Patient and Calm. Do not fidget, drum your fingers, tap your pen, flip through or read materials not concerning the meeting, or otherwise act in a disruptive manner.

10. Attend the Entire Meeting. Leave only when the meeting is adjourned. Leaving before the end of the meeting—unless absolutely necessary and unless you have prior permission—can be disruptive to other attendees and inconsiderate of the speaker.

11. Respond to Action Items. After the meeting, be sure to complete any tasks assigned to you as expeditiously as possible; file your meeting notes or any formalized minutes for later review or to prepare for future meetings.

Be on time, don’t interrupt, take turns, be prepared, follow through. Things I learned in kindergarten?

All of the above really seem like common sense and common courtesy to me, but some have evidently forgotten their appropriateness. I think I’ll pass this along to the “Etiquette Challenged” in my life. Maybe we can start a revolution…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    April 30, 2007 7:41 am

    I’m printing this out and leaving it in my boss’s mailbox! He could stand to learn a thing or three about etiquette in the workplace for sure!

  2. May 1, 2007 9:40 am

    I am sending this on to others. Kindergarten Business One-O-One. Don’t interrupt and quit flicking your pen like you are the only one on the planet! Good educational post….

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