5 Ways to Overhaul Your Meetings Manners

Last Updated Sep 24, 2008 11:31 AM EDT

2547595587_880720367e_m.jpgBusiness meetings can be functional or frustrating, catalysts or catastrophes, inspirational or insipid. But it's not always random fate that decides which kind you'll be getting. You can help influence the tone and course of any meeting you attend by honing your meeting etiquette.

Etiquette, you say? For a meeting? But of course. In any gathering of people, a focus on good manners ensures that everyone is comfortable and that interactions go smoothly. That can enhance effectiveness and productivity during any collaborative process.

Whether you're an attendee or an organizer, brushing up on your manners is just smart business. Here are five points to ponder.

1. Respect people's time.

  • If you're the organizer, try not to schedule meetings early in the morning or right before quitting time.
  • Keep meetings as short as possible and stick to start and end times. A timer can help keep things on track.
  • Show up on time, whether you're an attendee or the organizer. Better yet, get there 5 minutes early.
2. Provide information and support.
  • Let attendees know exactly what will be discussed by circulating an agenda ahead of time. Include on the agenda not just topics to be covered, but goals and objectives.
  • If you have supporting documents or PowerPoints, send them out early as well; you want to run a meeting, not a group reading session.
  • If you're attending a meeting, be prepared. Read or research necessary materials before showing up.
3. Observe common courtesy.
  • If you're running the meeting, act as a moderator and field comments and questions in turn. Or ask people to jot down their thoughts and save the Q & A for the end of the meeting.
  • If you're an attendee, don't railroad others as they're speaking; wait your turn. Never interrupt. If necessary, resort to the kindergarten tactic of raising your hand for recognition.
  • Heated discussion is okay, but yelling and insults are not. Ever.
4. Pay attention.
  • Turn off your phone. Don't text, check e-mail, or play solitaire.
  • Don't fidget, tap your pen, or do anything that could distract others.
  • Participate. Ask questions and give feedback when appropriate.
5. Say thanks.
  • As the organizer, tell everyone you appreciated their time and input. And as an attendee, thank the organizer for putting everything together.
(image by llawliet via Flickr, CC 2.0)
  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.