Conduct a Proper Business Meeting

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Why is proper Business Meeting Etiquette important?

The foundation of any effective business meeting is proper business meeting etiquette.  It should be understood that every business meeting will have an intended purpose and that the purpsoe is important enough to have a meeting.  And based on that understanding, the meeting should maintain a certain level of decorum.

So as you might expect, there is a valid reason to have a “meeting on how to have meetings”.  And of course there will be those who question the purpose of such a meeting.  However when the particpant of a meeting are properly trained, every subsequent meeting will be more effective and provide more value to the compnay in the long run.

If you have ever been part of a meeting that has little to no structure, lacks clear direction or is allowed to run itself, then you know the inportance of proper business meeting etiquette.  So let’s take a look at what is involved with holding an effective business meeting.

Components of an Effective Business Meeting

Start time and end time – This is very important.  The chairperson of any business meeting should expect that his / her attendees will arrive on time and he / she should plan accordingly and end the meeting on time.

Business meetings cannot be effective without structure and the start time, completion time and agenda are the foundation of that structure.  It is highly advised that you either train employees or notify employees that meeting times are set and should be adhered to strickly.

Create and Follow the Agenda – Preferably the agenda for a business meeting should circulated prior to the meeting. If possible the agenda should be distributed to each participant at least one week in advance.

Attendees should have the opportunity to suggest any additions or changes to the agenda and should submit them to the chairperson at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

Once the agenda is finalized the chairperson should assign time allotments to each item to help determine the length of the meeting.  If the meeting is expected to be too lengthy due to the material covered, the chairperson may choose to divide the material into seperate meetings.

An agenda that has been fully prepared and reviewed should include the following:

  • Date, start time, end time and place
  • Assigned roles and responsibilites
  • Attendees
  • Meeting topics with specific time allotments
  • Owner for each meeting topic

Business Meeting Assigned Roles and Responsiblites – To conduct a proper business meeting, several people may need to be assigned roles within the meeting.  Very often the task of conducting the meeting combined with taking notes or keeping track of time is too much for one person.  Therefore it is helpful to assign these roles to another attendee.

Some common roles and responsibilites include:

Chairperson: The charisperon is the leader of the meeting.  This is typically the person who called the meeting, created and distruibuted the agenda and will generally lead the meeting as it progresses.

Co-Chairperson: A co-chairperson may be assigned in the event that the chairsperson is unavailable at the assigned meeting time, the co-chairperson would be capable of leading the meeting in his/her absense.

Time Keeper: It is often helpful to assign a time keeper.  The time keepers role will be to simply keep track of time and politely alert the chairperson when specific meeting topics are reaching thier alloted time limits.

Scribe or Record Keeper
: Generally, the record keepers role is to take notes.  The record keeper should make note of all descussions and keep track of assigned tasks during the meeting.  Be sure to assign an owner to each task and if possible an intended completion date for the task.

Being Prepared is the Foundation of an Effective Meeting

Surely as the chairperson of a meeting, being prepared is critical to the success of the meeting. And we have already discussed a few of the steps required to be prepared for your upcoming meeting.

The objectives of the meeting need to be clearly defined.  Any meeting with poorly defined objectives is subject to long tangents or rambles which will waste valuable time. As the chairperson you should “steer” the meeting in direction of the objective and “table” any side discussions to a later time.

To best define the meeting objectives, it may also be necessary to alert participants of any expectations you have of them for the discussion.  In the event that it’s necessary for participants to bring information or review any particular documentation prior to the meeting, you will want to include that in your pre-meeting communication.

Be prepared for the inevitable.

It can be helpful to be prepared for the drama that occurs during business many meetings. Think about the potential “hot topics” and have responses at the ready.  It may also be helpful to address potential pitfalls in advance, stating that this topic will not be discussed during this meeting.

Additional Business Meeting Etiquette Tips

Take breaks during long meetngs – Meeting of 2 hours or longer should include breaks.  Be clear about the length of the break and insist that people return to the meetin on time.  Be sure to allow enough time for particpant to use the restroom, larger meeting may requiore a longer break to accomaodate everyone.

Allow everyone the oppportinity to speak
–  Keep the meeting organized by only speaking when you have the floor. Ask questions during the designated question period, and raise your hand to be recognized by the chairperson as having the floor. Do not interrupt someone while they are speaking or asking a question.

Listen, Really Listen – You may find that many of the questions you have about a topic are answered by the content of the meeting. Listen attentively to the meeting and take notes. Active listening is respectful and gives you a solid base for formulating your response

Remain calm at all time and stay in control – Keep Calm
Avoid nervous habits such as tapping a pen on the table, making audible noises with your mouth, rustling papers or tapping your feet on the floor. This is distracting to other participants and makes you look anxious, even if you are not.

Turn off your cell phone –  prior to the start of the meeting. If you are expecting an urgent call, then set your phone to vibrate and excuse yourself from the meeting if the call comes in. Unless laptop computers have been approved for the meeting, turn yours off and lower the screen so that you do not obstruct anyone’s view.

Don’t Bring Guests – Do not bring unannounced guests to a meeting. If you have someone you would like to bring to a meeting, then contact the chairperson for permission to bring your guest. If permission is not granted, then do not bring him.

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