During a recent Insight Designs meeting, I noticed that the momentum of our discussions was often plagued by interruptions, people looking at cell phones and an unintentional lack of respect for the person speaking. This led me to believe that this is a good time for a brief meeting etiquette refresher. In today’s technology dominated business environment, human interaction can sometimes suffer as our communication relies more and more on emails, instant messaging, cell phones, etc. Unfortunately this digital communication can sometimes result in poor behavior during meetings. With this mind, it may be a good time for us to take a moment and look at seven things we can all do to improve our meeting etiquette.
  1. Be on time, or -- even better -- arrive early. When you aren’t there, everyone wonders where you are and when you come late, everyone wonders why you are late.
  2. Have a good attitude. Come to the meeting with the understanding you are coming to a meeting that will provide information for your benefit.
  3. Leave your electronic devices at your desk. If you find that you have accidentally brought one with you to the meeting, turn it off. We can all go an hour without contact with the outside world.
  4. Respect the speaker. Remember that the person leading the meeting is offering his or her time and energy. So don’t look at your watch, don’t sigh, don’t yawn (or at least hide it), and don’t whisper to the person next to you.
  5. If you have a question or comment, don’t interrupt. Try the old-school method of raising your hand and allowing the speaker to come to a point where they can take your question.
  6. Stay focused on the subject/task at hand. Limit your comments to the topic of the meeting.
  7. Listen and pause before you react to a comment. A meeting is not a competition or a debate, it’s a chance to learn and participate.
All too often, a meeting is seen as an intrusion into the workday as opposed to being viewed as an opportunity for everyone in the company to learn and improve. Start by following the seven steps above, and perhaps the perception of meetings in your organization can change for the better.