We’ve seen each of these rules broken more often than we want to admit. But meetings run smoother and more efficiently when people respect this meeting etiquette.
Show Up on Time
Is 80% of life really showing up? Well, yes, provided you show up on time. This is a matter of respect and efficiency. A person who shows up ten minutes late to a meeting with six other people hasn’t wasted ten minutes, they’ve wasted an hour.
Figure Out Food & Beverage Policy Beforehand
It’s probably safe to drink water or coffee during a meeting. For anything else, you should check with the meeting organizer first. Things that are messy or that have a strong odour should probably be discouraged. And if you have permission to bring food, bringing enough for everyone is a good power move. It’s hard not to like the person who brings a dozen doughnuts to the Friday morning meeting.
Make sure everyone knows everyone. This isn’t just a social nicety. Introductions will establish everyone’s role in the meeting and help calibrate expectations.
Adjust Your Chair
You don’t want to tower over everyone and you don’t want to be the little kid at the table. Take a second to adjust your chair such that you’re at eye level with everyone.
Too many people speak softly, mumble, or don’t enunciate clearly when they speak. When this happens, other meeting participants may ask for clarification, or they may politely pretend to understand what was said and move on. It’s much better to be understood. If it helps, practice speaking in a mirror before showing up to a meeting.
Learn How to Interrupt Properly
Is interrupting rude? Mostly yes, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Some interruptions are a normal part of conversation. It’s okay to interrupt to get a clarification on something, to inject missing information, or to refocus the meeting. Be polite, make eye contact, use a gesture, and when you’re done, thank the room for allowing the interruption.
Don’t Save Questions
If you learn how to politely interrupt someone, you can ask questions at the appropriate time as opposed to at the end of the meeting. When people are wrapping things up and getting ready to leave, the last thing they want is to launch into yet more discussion.
Don’t Monopolize Time
Speaking too much takes away room from others. Try not to monopolize the group’s time. If you notice you do a lot of speaking in meetings, start tracking how much time you use by recording yourself and evaluate yourself later. Was everything you said on point and adding value? Are there areas where you should cut back?
Meetings require attention and phones take attention away. So put your phone in your pocket and set it to silent.
Acknowledge & Support Other People’s Ideas
When someone makes a good point that is in danger of being overlooked or co-opted by someone else, acknowledge their point. Say, “Susan’s idea about exploring edge computing to get better latency times is important, we should look into this further.”
This does two things. First, it ensures the idea gets the attention it deserves. Secondly, it gives the person who came up with it the credit they deserve.
Bonus: Thank Everyone For Their Time
A little thank you goes a long way. Make sure you thank the room for their time.