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Almost everyone dislikes company meetings. Unfortunately, they are a necessity or unavoidable reality in many organizations. Below are some of the tips for demonstrating positive professional etiquette in meetings.
- RSVP – Make certain to RSVP to the meeting or calendar invitation. It is important to keep others apprised of who will be in attendance. It can be very frustrating for everyone involved when a key or essential person is missing from the meeting – wasting everyone’s time.
- Prepare – The negative aspects of meetings (such as monotony or inefficiency) are often exacerbated by lack of preparation. Make certain to read relevant material and look over any prior notes, hand-outs, or other information about the meeting mission and objectives prior to showing up. You may even write down talking points that you want to cover during the meeting.
- Arrive Early – Never walk into the meeting at the last minute. You should allow sufficient time to enter the meeting and make brief conversation with the attendees before getting down to business. For inter-office meetings, this generally means coming in approximately 2-5 minutes early. For away-from-office meetings, you should arrive ten minutes early.
- Set Expectations – If you are coordinating the meeting, it is your job to control the work and meeting progress. You should begin the meeting with a recap on the purpose of the meeting, a summary of what will be discussed, and who will be directing the discussion. Providing this outline is a strong communication skill the manages attendee expectations.
- Conflicts – If you have a conflicting engagement that will pull you away from the meeting, make the other meeting members aware of that ahead of time. Try to avoid this entirely if you are the meeting coordinator. If you are not the coordinator, you should communicate with the coordinator in advance to determine how this will affect the meeting flow. It may be possible that you efficiently make your contribution to the meeting during the time that you are able to be there. When you must leave, have a plan for exiting without disturbing the meeting or others.
- Engagement – Another difficulty in having an efficient meeting is the lack of attendee engagement. If you are a presenter, you should scope your presentation in a manner that excites and engages the audience. This can generally be done by integrating some of the following techniques (open with an attention-getting statement, provide an outline, do not use slides with lots of words, graphics should only be used if interesting and useful to the attendees, use changes in emotion and tone throughout, get the attendees involved with active participation or reciprocal questions. If you are an attendee, make certain to demonstrate attentiveness. This can be through active listening, body language, taking notes, asking questions, etc. Do not spend time on your phone. Even checking emails should be put off until the end of the meeting.
- Confrontations – Do not make meetings confrontational. If you disagree with the content or position of a presentation, you should not attempt to refute are argue. Rather, you should present any contradictory facts or positions in the form of a question in which you ask for greater clarification. This avoids conflict while still voicing your concerns about what is taking place.
- Questions or Comments – Make certain you understand the presenter’s desire or preference for questions and comments from attendees. When presenting questions during the presentation, make certain they are targeted and well thought out before asking. Questions that interrupt the presentation are annoying and unproductive. If you wait to the end to present questions or comments, make certain that you wrote down the question during the presentation. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to accurately recall all of your questions or comments.