How to Practice Meeting Etiquette to Participate Effectively

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Adhering to proper etiquette will enable meetings to run more smoothly.
Adhering to proper etiquette will enable meetings to run more smoothly. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Everyone in business needs to understand meeting etiquette is an important part of business communication. There is a growing need to follow proper procedures for professional conduct. Bad meetings reflect on everyone's ability to conduct professional group communications and have an adverse influence on group problem solving.

Start the meeting on time and do not run past the communicated end time so you show proper respect for everyone’s time. All attendees should also be punctual. It is okay for you to arrive early but never late. Keeping people waiting is rude and it should not be expected that they will wait for everyone to arrive.

Gain commitments to attend for the duration of the meeting. Allowing attendees to come and go during meetings is disruptive. Thus, require anyone anticipating an early departure to request your advance permission. This way, you can rearrange your agenda, if necessary.

Make everyone aware of the meeting purpose and agenda right at the beginning. Put this on meeting reminders and go over it with everyone at the meeting to insure all agree. Once everyone is in agreement, it is easier to follow the agenda and stick to time limits.

Assign someone to take minutes, documenting decisions and actions. Having everything in writing will not only ensure completion of actions outside the meeting but will help keep the group focused. Consider rotating the minutes-taker role among membership, if you have regular meetings.

Turn off phones and pagers and ensure that everyone else does. Some people will find this impossible so ask that they at least set it to vibrate in their pockets. Ask them to leave the room if they feel they must respond to a call so they do not interrupt the meeting.

Also, do not turn on a laptop or other device unless it is used briefly to present information to the group. Using this equipment often prevents attendees from paying attention to the meeting and is considered rude because it gives the impression the meeting topic is not important.

Encourage everyone to actively participate in discussion, idea generation and problem solving. Have them respect the meeting’s purpose and make sure that comments are relevant and brief.

Require everyone to wait their turn to talk and not interrupt anyone. Be polite and pay attention because good listening skills are important to increase communication and understanding. Show respect, allowing only one person at a time to talk.

Forbid multiple conversations during meeting discussion or presentations. This is not only rude but can be both confusing and distracting to some attendees.

Make presenters aware or their time slots and your expectations. They should arrive early and be prepared with any reports or visuals. During presentations, hold questions and comments until the end and keep questions brief.

Summarize at the end of the meeting what was accomplished, review and assign actions and then plan any necessary follow up. Also be sure that you thank the group for its time.

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