How you behave in meetings make up a big part of your professional reputation, so you want to be your best self. Here’s how.
Get all your materials ready prior to the meeting. Make sure you can address everything you’ll be expected to speak on. Take a bathroom break. Eat a quick snack. If you need coffee during the meeting, make sure it’s made and ready to go. Protip: don’t fill your cup too much and if there’s a lid make sure it’s firmly affixed.
You don’t want to be the last one in the door. Arrive five to fifteen minutes early. This will let you get a good seat, organize your notes, and mentally prepare.
Adjust Your Seat
You want to be sitting at the same height as everyone else at the table. This is another reason it pays to be early, as adjusting your seat looks a bit awkward.
Bring a Pen and a Pad
Ahead of time, jot down a few short notes concerning what you want to talk about or what you need addressed. Take brief notes during the meeting.
Be Cautious About Bringing Anything Else
You likely don’t need anyone’s permission to bring coffee or water to a meeting. However, if you want to bring anything more substantial, like a muffin or a doughnut, you should ask permission from the meeting’s chair. In more formal situations, this isn’t a good idea, since few people can look professional while eating a muffin. But in less formal situations, it’s probably fine. In fact, consistently bringing doughnuts for the whole team during your Friday morning catch-up is a legendary move.
Be Careful About Using Your Phone
Taking notes on your phone can look a lot like texting or other non-meeting related activities. So avoid using your phone if you can, especially if some people at the meeting are of an older generation.
Set Your Phone to Silent
You owe the people at your meeting your full attention. You won’t be fielding calls during a meeting, so set your phone to silent.
Speak in Turn
Make sure you have the floor before you speak. In a larger meeting, catch the chairperson’s eye and wait to be acknowledged. Don’t interrupt.
You want to be loud enough such that everyone in the room will have no trouble hearing you. And if someone is joining the meeting virtually, speaking loudly becomes more important.
Ask Questions As They Come Up
To be sure, wait until someone’s done speaking before you ask a question. But at the same time, don’t hold all your questions until the very end of the meeting only to bring them up as everyone is getting ready to leave.
Clean Up After Yourself
Collect all your papers, throw out any trash, erase the whiteboard, and make sure the space is as clean as you found it.