Meeting Etiquette Tips

16 Meeting Etiquette Tips | Must-Know Do’s and Don’ts

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In-person meetings are an important way to connect with your coworkers, brainstorm new ideas, and troubleshoot when things go awry. However, it can be challenging to know how to behave during a work meeting in a new environment or with new individuals. 

We recommend brushing up on your meeting etiquette dos and don’ts before the meeting to save yourself from making unnecessary mistakes. You’ll come across as extra polished and professional with a few key face-to-face meeting etiquette tips. 

Pre-Meeting Etiquette Tips

1. Create and Keep an Agenda

An agenda keeps a meeting organized and lets everyone know before the meeting what the main topics of the meeting are so that there isn’t any confusion. Keep yourself and your team effective with a concise agenda that lists how much time will be devoted to each topic. Assign tasks to individuals beforehand so that they come prepared with any reports or information that they will need to ensure the meeting runs smoothly. 

Complete your own pre-meeting reading and work to ensure that you are prepared and ready to report new information and contribute to the meeting. 

2. Gather All Supplies and Equipment

Nobody likes waiting around while someone looks for something that they’ve lost. Keep the meeting on track by preparing yourself with the appropriate supplies for the meeting. 

If you’re presenting, make sure you have all of your notes, slides, laptop, laptop charger, etc. If you are a meeting attendee, double-check that you have a notebook, several pens, your laptop, charger, etc. 

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During Your Meeting Etiquette Tips

3. Show Up on Time

It goes without saying that timeliness is an important trait that is respectful of others and gives you a positive reputation with your colleagues. 

Show up to every meeting at least five minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to arrive unflustered. We recommend showing up even earlier if you are the host or are in charge of presenting or setting up equipment for the meeting. 

Everyone has a busy schedule, and you may think that your coworkers will understand if you show up a few minutes late because you were getting coffee, but this ultimately shows a lack of respect for their time. 

On top of this, early attendees will have an excellent opportunity to catch up and network with others who arrive early. You never know what opportunities these conversations will lead to. 

4. Introduce Yourself and Others

If there are any newcomers, new employees, or individuals who are calling in, make sure to introduce them to the group. This simple step will make others feel more welcome and makes you look professional and friendly. 

5. Practice Active Listening

Always give a meeting your full attention. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to speak and having others staring at their phone or shuffling in their seat. 

Give others your full attention and practice active listening, which involves occasional nodding, making eye contact with the speaker, and reiterating what the speaker is saying in future conversations to show you absorbed the information. This skill helps you retain the information better and makes you a more supportive colleague. 

6. Dress Professionally & Present Well

You should already be dressed professionally if you’re meeting in person at work. However, it never hurts to dress extra nice for work meetings, especially if your superiors will be in attendance. 

Take this one step further by monitoring your body language. Don’t slouch in your seat, as this makes you look uninterested and unprofessional. Instead, sit up straight and limit any fidgeting. Good posture makes you look alert and confident. 

Avoid the following bad habits: 

  • Fidgeting

  • Sorting and rustling through papers

  • Swiveling your chair

  • Bouncing your leg or foot

  • Tapping your pen

  • Making clicking or humming noises

  • Whistling

  • Tapping your foot

7. Don’t Eat at the Meeting

Avoid eating at the meeting. While it may not seem like a big deal to snack during your weekly meetings, eating can be noisy and distracting. It also prevents you from chiming in the conversation at the right time and puts you in an awkward position if you are called on while you have food in your mouth. 

Drinking water is usually okay, but make sure that you take small, quiet sips only as needed. Most in-person meetings are also okay with participants drinking coffee or tea, but take care not to spill your beverage. Never run late trying to pick up a coffee for the meeting. 

8. Ask Questions at the Right Time

Asking questions shows initiative and interest in what is being presented at the meeting, which is great. However, it can be distracting if not pulled off correctly. 

Take care to ask questions at the ideal intervals during your meeting. Some speakers may ask questions to be held until the end of the presentation, while others don’t mind if you politely raise your hand during the presentation. Respect the speaker’s wishes and ask questions when they prefer. 

If possible, avoid asking all of your questions at the end of the meeting when the meeting needs to be wrapped up, as this can be frustrating for others. If you can’t ask all of your questions at the meeting, send a follow-up email to the meeting leader or speaker asking for clarification. 

9. Put Away Your Phone

Few things are more disrespectful to a speaker than a meeting attendee scrolling through their phone while the speaker is presenting. These actions show a lack of attentiveness and professionalism from you, and it’s also hugely distracting to other attendees when someone is surfing the web on their phone. 

Many people leave their phones on the table during meetings, but this is distracting. While it may appear harmless, your phone screen lighting up or your phone buzzing is disrespectful to those around you. Completely silence your phone and put it away where it’s not visible, such as your laptop case, briefcase, purse, or pocket. 

If you can, take notes with paper and pen rather than a laptop to avoid unnecessary sounds, notifications, and the temptation to surf the web on your computer. If you must take notes or reference information on your computer, check with the meeting organizer first to ensure it’s appropriate to have your laptop out. If it is, disable all notifications and silence your computer before going to the meeting to minimize distractions. 

10. Speak Loudly and Clearly

When speaking during the meeting, make sure to enunciate and speak loud enough so that everyone in the room can hear you easily. Speaking loudly and clearly will also make you look more confident and, therefore, professional. 

Speaking too softly can also make you look meek and cause people to ask you to repeat what you’ve said, effectively slowing down the meeting. 

11. Assign Roles

During a business meeting, there are two key roles that should always be assigned to help a meeting go smoothly: a leader and a note-taker. 

Don’t assume that the leader is by default your boss. The meeting leader may be someone who is in charge of a particular department or project, depending on the meeting’s goals. 

Secondly, assign someone the role of note-taker. The meeting leader is usually too busy to do the minutes and make notes of assignments or deadlines that are decided during the meeting. Have one person take charge of this role and take detailed notes during the session. The meeting leader may even want these notes later to help them write up a summary. 

You may also want to make an audio recording of the meeting so that the note taker can make more detailed minutes after the meeting. Always notify the meeting attendees that they are being recorded ahead of time. 

12. Be Aware of Different Personalities

Everyone behaves differently in meetings. Some individuals may be outgoing and talkative, while others may be shy and reserved. 

A meeting where one or two people dominate the conversation won’t give you the same creative results that a meeting where people are equally contributing would. Encourage quieter colleagues to speak up and share their opinions. If you notice someone is struggling to share, politely call on them and turn the conversation over to them. If one of your coworkers is loudly dominating the conversation, politely suggest that you hear from some of the other department members at the meeting. 

If you have individuals who are remote conferencing into your meeting, make sure that you include them in the dialogue and give them a chance to speak to everyone and ask questions as well. 

If you’re the meeting host, plan out the right mix of people for your meeting based on personalities that play well with each other. You don’t want to choose a group of people that are completely reserved or very talkative because neither group will be effective. Choose a strategic mix of individuals with different strengths and points of view to create a diverse group that plays well together. 

13. Schedule Time for Breaks

If your meeting is more than half an hour long, plan for a short five-minute break so that everyone can get up, stretch, go to the bathroom, or grab some more coffee or water. 

It may be tempting to power through an hour-long meeting, but the longer you go without a break, the less information you and the other attendees will actually remember. 

It’s better to have short breaks that break up information so that everyone can digest the information in bite-sized chunks. Clearly mark these breaks on the schedule so that attendees know they will have a chance to grab more coffee or run to the bathroom. This will also reduce distractions during the meeting because people won’t need to get up for anything. 

Post-Meeting Etiquette Tips

14. Save Time for Chit-Chat and Questions

At the end of the business meeting, make sure there is a little leftover time for questions and lighthearted conversation. Saving time for questions at the end can reduce interruptions and questions during the meeting, resulting in a more efficient meeting. 

If you run into a group with too many questions for the remaining time, stay on time and give everyone the chance to leave when the meeting is supposed to end, in case they have other meetings or appointments. Anyone who wants to can stick around to ask additional questions can. 

15. Follow Up

If you have any questions that didn’t get answered during the meeting, don’t hesitate to follow up and throw in a “thank you!” to the meeting host. 

In addition, if you were assigned any deliverables, make sure that you deliver them in a timely manner. Follow up with coworkers to ensure that they are meeting their deliverables so that everybody is ready for the next meeting. 

16. Improve Future Meetings

Adjust meetings over time by giving presenters constructive feedback on how they can improve their presentations. Consider other factors that may enhance your meeting, such as: 

  • Do you really need a weekly meeting, or can your team have this meeting every other week?

  • Can the meeting time be reduced by 15 minutes to keep everyone on task?

  • Does everyone need to be at this particular meeting? Is it benefiting everyone there?

  • Would a different time of day work better? If everyone is sleepy at 8 am, you may want to consider an 11 am meeting time instead. 

Ask others for feedback on your own presentations and contributions to the meeting. Is there a way that you can improve your own presentation? Can you bring additional information that would make the meeting run more smoothly?

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Final Thoughts

Meetings allow you to make a strong impression on colleagues and bosses that you may not see regularly. Take this chance to stand out from the crowd by impressing others with your professionalism and preparedness. 

We hope today’s meeting etiquette tips for what to do before, during, and after a meeting help you make a positive impression during your next meeting. As virtual meetings have become the trend lately, you should not miss the virtual meeting etiquette and Zoom meeting etiquette here.

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