Meetings aren’t often viewed as the highlight of one’s work day. We all know they tend to be boring and someone always gets off topic leading the 30 minute recap of the week to a two hour lecture on the appropriate way to answer a telemarketing phone call.
The fact is, however, meetings are important for the success of a company and each employee working there. Having poor meeting etiquette can make or break your success in the corporate world. Here are 10 things you should never do in a meeting:
Show Up Late.
Nothing says “I’m disorganized” like walking into a meeting already in progress. Arriving a few minutes early not only demonstrates that you respect your colleagues’ time, but guarantees you get a good seat as well.
If you’ve been given an agenda or materials beforehand, read them. If you think you’ll be taking notes, which you probably will, have a pen and notepad ready. Think of any questions you have or contributions you could make to the subjects being discussed.
Monopolize the Conversation.
When discussion ensues, don’t take the spotlight. Allow others to make their argument, and don’t drone on — or feel compelled to speak at all if you don’t have anything purposeful to say.
Make Your Statements Sound Like Questions.
Phrasing your statements as questions invites others to say no, argue or take credit for your ideas. Speak in declarative sentences, such as, “Let’s do more research on that.”
Try to gauge the needs and mood of those in the room. Listen carefully to what people are saying to discern how receptive they might be to your ideas. You need to make your message relevant to your audience. For example, if everyone is focused on cutting costs and you’re angling for a system upgrade, you’ll either want to stress how the new software will save money — or table your request for another day.
Even if you think your argument may not be A+ material, speak up. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. When refuted build your points, but make sure to maintain a sense of professionalism.
The smacking, popping, cracking and cow-like chewing are annoying. Plus, it’s rude and unprofessional.
Keep Your Cell Phone On.
You turn it off in restaurants and at the movies. Turn it off for your meeting. A ringing phone interrupts the presenter and distracts the audience. And whatever you do, never take a call in the middle of a meeting.
Wander Off Topic.
Don’t hijack the agenda. Stay focused on what you and your team are trying to accomplish. If you must digress into unrelated areas, make sure it’s all right with the others present. A good way to handle important issues not related to the topic at hand is to record them on a flip chart and revisit them at an appropriate time.
Sure, you might get more done if you forgo a meeting to stay at your desk and do your actual work. But if the meeting was called by someone higher up in the organization, you’ll miss an opportunity to make yourself known.
Remember, in the end, meetings aren’t just about productivity, they’re also about projecting a positive image and building professional relationships.