Let’s talk meetings. Dave Barry, a humor columnist and author, once said “if you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’. But meetings don’t have to be unproductive and loathsome; and there are things that both the presenter and the audience can do to make sure meetings don’t ruin our existence as a human race.
Etiquette tips for when you’re running the meeting:
Arrive early to set-up. Prioritize your AV needs in the event you need technical support. Prepare all other materials or handouts for participants and clear away any clutter (excess chairs, items on table, etc.).
Make introductions when necessary so everyone knows one another. If introductions aren’t necessary, don’t waste time doing this.
Give a thorough agenda and stick to it! Remember the old adage, ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them’. Stick to what you organized.
Always finish on time, or better yet, early. One reason people dislike meetings is because presenters tend to hijack our time. More is more, better is better, but just because you’ve said more doesn’t necessarily make something better. It’s your job as the presenter to refocus any Q&A or discussions that have taken a left turn and are getting away from the matter at hand.
Etiquette tips for when you’re participating in a meeting:
Be on time. If you want the presenter to make the best use of your time, give the same courtesy. If you are late for any reason, give a quick apology and sit down quietly. Give a more thorough apology when the meeting has ended.
Avoid multi-tasking. We aren’t capable of it anyway. Only bring the material you’ll need for the topic at hand. Leave all other tasks and distractions at your desk.
Don’t have side conversations. It’s rude, plain and simple. If you have a question, raise your hand and ask the presenter rather than your neighbor.
Stick to the presenter’s agenda and don’t head in a different direction. Discussions that begin to stray from the intended purpose of the meeting should be saved for another time.
Do your homework ahead of time and know what the meeting is about. Prepare any questions or points of confusion so you can listen for those clarifications or ask when appropriate.
Be polite when it comes to electronics. If you need to excuse yourself to take a call or check email, notify the presenter ahead of time, or ask for a planned short break if the presentation is scheduled for more than an hour. If you know your electronics will be a distraction, leave them at your desk. Be present, be an active listener, and stay engaged.