Highly Effective Work Habits: Meeting Etiquite
Meetings happen for most people, no matter what industry or job role you are in. And often these meetings are with a variety of different people from various departments. Even if you are not playing a major role in the meeting or just listening, you still need to be prepared. Here are some basic points to consider:
- Read the meeting notice and study the agenda. Make sure you know the topic before attending the meeting.
- If the subject matter isn’t related to your job and will never have any impact on you, question management as to why you were invited. Meetings without purpose can be a huge time waster when you have other important things to do. In my own role as technical architect, I sometimes have to pick and choose my meetings due to the sheer number of them.
- If you have a role to play in the meeting, do your research ahead of time. Make sure you can address any outstanding questions noted in the agenda or that you might anticipate coming up.
- Know your audience. If this is a technical meeting, you can throw more technical jargon out there. If the room is a mixture of business and technical folks, “dumb it down” a bit. You don’t want business folks glazing over because they can’t understand what you are saying. And, of course, with predominately business people, you want to keep away from highly technical conversation all together.
- Speak clearly and professionally. Don’t mumble or ramble on and on. I’ve been in plenty of meetings where you have “talkers” that just drone on forever until someone cuts them off. You want to get to your point quickly and certainly don’t say the same thing repeatedly. I’ve worked with a lot of foreign consultants over the years and one of them told me something once that really opened my eyes. He said that Americans often repeat the same thing over and over again in conversation, just saying it differently each time. I started listening more to people and found this to be very true
- If you are doing a presentation, get to the meeting early and set everything up ahead of time. More often that not, something won’t work the first time (i.e. projector, Internet access, network connectivity, etc). Also, make sure you keep everything you need local on your PC and not on the network (just in case the network suddenly has issue).
- If you are there to primarily listen, come up with a relevant comment or question to pose at the right time. Don’t interrupt the person who “has the floor” – wait for a moment of silence. This shows people that you are interested and engaged in the conversation.
- For the love of God, don’t fall asleep. If the meeting is really boring, drink a Coke prior to the meeting or keep pinching yourself. Obviously, you will look like a fool if you nod off.
- Don’t work on other things during the meeting. Pay attention. If someone suddenly asks you a question, you aren’t going to make a very good impression by asking them to repeat themselves.