Etiquette plays a crucial role in creating a productive and respectful meeting environment. Here are some guidelines to follow for a successful meeting:
When asked to RSVP to a meeting, do it promptly. It will allow the organizer to know who will be attending. Plus, it will give them an opportunity to reschedule, if not enough people can attend.
Arrive on time. Being late disrupts the flow of the meeting and shows a lack of respect for others' time.
How long should you wait for someone who is late for a meeting?
It can vary based on the type of meeting, the person and your schedule. If it’s 10 minutes into the meeting time and they haven’t arrived, I suggest a call or text to them to confirm that the meeting is still on. For a business meeting, I would probably request to reschedule if they haven’t arrived after 15-20 minutes. I suggest confirming meetings the day before as a reminder for all involved.
Late for a meeting
If you’re running late for a meeting, let the person who you are scheduled to meet with know as soon as possible. If you will be more than 15 minutes late, ask them if they would prefer to reschedule the meeting.
Preparation for a meeting
Review the agenda and any relevant materials beforehand so you can actively contribute to the discussion.
If it’s appropriate, take notes during the meeting to capture key points, action items, and decisions. Bring something to take notes with. This can be an iPad, laptop or good old paper and pen. To give your notepad a polished and professional look carry it in a portfolio folder. Avoid taking notes on your phone because this can give the impression that you are scrolling through social media or checking emails.
Presenting at a meeting
Confirm how much time you will have for your report or presentation and that you are on the meeting agenda. Prepare well in advance, so you’re not scrambling to put it all together last minute.
If using electronics for your presentation (e.g., Power Point, videos, etc.), arrive early to the meeting to make sure everything is working properly. I suggest having a backup on a thumb drive or easily accessible in a cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. This is insurance against any issues with the devices in the meeting space.
During a meeting
Minimize distractions by silencing your phone and keeping it out of sight. If you are expecting an important call that you must absolutely take, let the meeting organizer and attendees know you may need to step out during the meeting to take the call.
Stay on topic. Stick to the agenda items and relevant discussions. Avoid going off on tangents that waste time.
Be considerate of everyone in the meeting and avoid monopolizing the conversation. Allow everyone to have a chance to speak. Be respectful and professional if you don’t agree with someone. Avoid personal attacks and focus on the issues at hand.
Stick to the allotted time for each agenda item. If more time is needed, suggest adding it to a future meeting.
Avoid multitasking and focus on the meeting rather than working on unrelated tasks. This shows respect for the presenter and other attendees.
Eating during a meeting
Eat at meeting only if it is a meeting where food is being served. Do not bring food to a meeting unless you were told to. For example, “We’re having a brown bag lunch meeting next week.” This goes for Zoom meetings too. Please do not eat on camera during a Zoom meeting. If you must eat, turn your camera off. No one wants to watch you eat on screen.
Speaking of Zoom
I have one rule for Zoom meetings: Behave at a Zoom meeting the same way you would be behave if the meeting were held in-person.
Remember that the specific etiquette guidelines might vary based on the nature of the meeting, your organization's culture, and other factors. The goal is to be respectful, engaged, and considerate of others throughout the meeting process.
Suzy Lins is a certified etiquette trainer located in Southern California. Educating on manners and etiquette to help people gain confidence to master business and social situations is the core of her teaching.