Business Meeting Etiquette

How to use business meetings to show poise and charisma

I experienced varying degrees of business meeting etiquette over many years within the financial services industry. I have attended, quite possibly, hundreds of meetings!

Some meetings are scheduled at inconvenient times and many may seem a little pointless. However, regardless of whether the content is worthwhile, each meeting presents an opportunity to witness your colleagues business meeting etiquette skills, reflecting both their character and ability to communicate.

The words spoken in business meetings are almost irrelevant; the content is soon forgotten. But the insight you can gain into the meeting etiquette of your colleagues can prove priceless and give you the perfect opportunity to shine with your polite behaviour, ability to speak confidently and overall business meeting etiquette.

Meeting etiquette can also be extended to your consideration towards others, before and after the meeting, along with your attention to detail. That’s an opportunity to impress even before you have spoken!

Peparing for the Meeting

  • Check the lighting of the meeting room to ensure no-one is squinting from direct sunlight coming through the windows.
  • Ensure there are adequate refreshments i.e. tea, coffee, water etc.
  • Check there are enough chairs and they are all of equal - height. Differences in seating height can reflect the differences in authority; make sure that no-one has a low seat.
  • Print a copy of the agenda for everyone and take extra pens and paper into the meeting room in case anyone has forgotten theirs.
  • Arrange for someone to take the minutes of the meeting.

During the Meeting

  • Ensure you do not interrupt anyone regardless of what you have to say.
  • Turn your mobile phone to silent mode and do not be tempted to look at it during the meeting.
  • Think before you speak, if in any doubt don’t. You can always email your comments afterwards once you have had the opportunity to consider your words.
  • Always stick to the agenda; do not use the meeting as an opportunity to discuss your own!
  • Be concise; do not waffle.
  • Avoid confrontation and harsh words e.g. replace “you’re wrong” with “I would challenge that because...” Also, replacing “you’re” with “that” makes it less personal.
  • If you need to give negative feedback ensure you have a recommended solution to the problem, rather than just having a whinge.
  • When receiving a compliment for work done, ensure you accept graciously and on behalf of your department and do not forget to mention specific colleagues who have helped you.
  • Don't rush, you may come across as being flustered and not in control.
  • If you are really pushed for time then decline the meeting if possible. If it is mandatory then you should let the chair of the meeting, or your manager know, ahead of time that you have to leave early. When you do leave, do so discreetly.
  • Take notes; it shows you are listening and interested (and it keeps you awake!).
  • Wait a second or so before answering a question, the slight time delay means you have given the answer some thought and are not gushing to get your point across.

After the Meeting

Arrange for the minutes to be emailed to everyone present at the meeting, and those who could not attend, within one working day

Ensure you follow up on any “Action” points within the timescale specified.


Other Business Etiquette Skills to learn on this site:

Business Email Etiquette

Business Negotiation Tactics

Business Phone Etiquette

Interview Etiquette

Interview Thank You Letters

Interview Dress Code


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About The Author


The Author, Emma Dupont, is hosting the following courses:

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One-Day English Social Etiquette Skills Course on:

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