Your Business Meeting
Etiquette Skills

Business Meeting

Your business meeting etiquette can impact your career, or your influence in an organization.

Much like the "play nice with others" mantra we learned on the playground as children, meetings require courtesy, diplomacy, and cooperation.

In today's business world, time is a precious commodity, so I would add preparation and punctuality to the above list as well.

Let's explore how these qualities can improve the function and productivity of your meetings.

Preparing for a Meeting

  • Confirm your attendance.  A simple confirmation sends a message of dependability and reinforces to you where you are supposed to be and when.  Also, make a note for yourself of any logistical details you may need.
  • Dress accordingly.  Plan to wear something that sends a message of professionalism.  When in doubt, step it up a notch.
  • If you are leading the meeting, have an agenda and set the intention for a specific outcome.  Sharing this information with those invited to attend will make for a more productive meeting and help avoid time wasters.
  • Be prepared to contribute!  An effective and productive meeting is usually dependent on the quality of participation from attendees.  Research, read, and bring any necessary materials to be shared.  Take a notepad and pen in case these are not provided.

Your Arrival

  • Arrive on time!  Preferably ten minutes early.  This shows you to be the responsible professional you are.
  • Sometimes there will be a gathering outside the meeting room before start time.  Use this opportunity to greet others, introduce yourself giving your first and last name, and indulge in refreshments if they are served.  This pre-meeting time may also provide you with opportunities to exchange business cards.
  • Finish refreshments before the meeting begins.  And avoid leaving your seat during the meeting to freshen your drink or get seconds.  This can be quite distracting for other people.
  • Wait before being seated, especially if this is your first time attending.  There may be a seating precedent that you wouldn't want to upset.  Follow the instructions or cues of the folks in charge.  If you are unsure about seating arrangements, it is perfectly appropriate to ask someone.
  • Avoid cluttering your space at the table.  Use only items necessary, but think ahead as well so you don't have to interrupt the meeting to rummage through your briefcase or bag to retrieve something.
  • If introductions are made once everyone is seated, the person in charge will lead the way, sometimes in round robin format.  Follow instructions precisely.  Look at others and speak clearly.
  • Smile.  Your friendly facial expression will relax everyone.
  • Your positive demeanor is reflected in your body language.  Make eye contact with others as each of you speak.  This shows that you are listening and engaged.  It also demonstrates your confidence.

Your Participation

  • Participate constructively.  This is your time to shine as an individual and as a team player.
  • Maintain a professional posture.  Definitely avoid slumping, tapping your fingers on the table, twirling your hair, shaking or tapping your foot, and any other distracting habits.  If chairs are adjustable, make sure you are on an even level with others at the table.
  • Keep your cell phone turned off and off the table.  If there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. you're waiting for a call that affects the meeting discussion), speak to the meeting leader ahead of time.  (The same goes for having to leave a meeting early.)
  • If it is known to be acceptable to use an electronic device for note taking or referencing meeting materials, make sure you turn off email and text and close any open messages.  Take every precaution to avoid causing a distraction or disturbance.
  • Speaking loud enough for everyone to hear is a signal of your professionalism and respect for others.  Whispering to others is not okay during meetings.
  • Keep your attention on the agenda, not your watch or the clock.  Everyone wants the meeting to begin and end on time.  Do your part.  Others may thank you!

More Business Meeting Etiquette Tips

  • Be gracious in crediting the work of others.  Use “we” when referencing your team’s or company’s contribution.
  • Never interrupt others or interject negative remarks.
  • Reference and acknowledge what others may have said in the meeting.
  • Before leaving the room, thank the person(s) who hosted or led the meeting, letting them know of its importance.  (This is often overlooked.
  • Following up after the meeting with any assignments or commitments is not only mannerly, it is necessary.
  • Do not share the meeting discussion with people not invited to attend.  Consider the meeting confidential unless you have been assigned a role of dissemination.
  • A very good meeting motto is "Be Polite." 
    Politeness is to do and say the kindest things in the kindest way.  ~ Unknown

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