The business meetings are the pinnacle of team work. Whoever had to sit through a painstakingly long business meeting should understand why is it important to behave professionally and make the effort easier for others as well for themselves. When you have changed a few jobs, you must know that some of the rules are uniform to all business meetings.
Preparation is the half job done
A well-prepared participant in a meeting doesn’t waste other people’s time and, is introduced to the materials and agendas and has a quick grasp of the matter once the meeting starts. Upon receiving a request for a meeting, make sure to understand why, the meeting is necessary, who called it, who are the other participants and what results or conclusions are expected. Commit a week or two time to gather information and materials you’ll be needing. More importantly try to figure out what your role should be on that meeting and how can you contribute to the common goal beyond simply showing up. Try to visualize what is going to happen on the meeting and decide where do you fit in, that is when are going to speak.
Arrive on time
It goes without saying that getting late for a business meeting is more than just bad manners. Arriving on time helps you to settle down and feel relaxed in the initial phase, not to mention the importance of catching up with the meeting course. If the meeting is held outside the company’s building, arrive there at least ten minutes before the meeting time. For in-the-office meetings, five minutes will be enough. It’s advisable to stop doing whatever you’ve been doing at least 15 minutes before you leave the office in order to get to the meeting location on time. This is the time to get yourself a cup of coffee or a bottle of water. If for some reason you get late, just apologize and sit. Your excuses will only make you feel better, so keep them to yourself.
Play it smart
You shouldn’t say everything that crosses your mind. Unless they are presenting the results or a strategy, successful speakers stick to the “one minute rule.” Before you talk, a good tactics is to wait for the person who finished to take the first breath. In that way you’ll show that you’ve been listening and taken into account what they’ve said. Barbara Streibel, a consultant at Oriel, Inc. says that the best reason to have a meeting is that you really need interaction between the people who are attending. Remember that most of human communication is based on the posture. Making faces, rolling your eyes, slouching in your chair and above all, crossing your arms won’t do any good neither to the speaker nor to you. If you want your team to consider your idea, try to make a direct question instead of a statement.
Focus on the team
People like when their colleagues recognize their contribution. If you like what someone said, tell them. On the other hand, if you feel offended by someone’s comment don’t react abruptly and keep the calm level of your voice. In Catalyst they stress out that the answer is always “yes, and…” and never “no, but…” in order to make ideas flowing and avoid turning down initial proposals. However, don’t let your anger leave the room. If you think you’ve been unjustly called out, make it known there and then. Keeping quiet and complaining later undermines the team. Sarcastic comments, though, pointing fingers and pounding the table may take your career on a downward slope.
Technology is not your friend
The purpose of the meeting is to initiate personal, face to face environment where problems are solved and new directions drafted. Keep this in mind and focus the communication with people inside with full attention. Making phone call, texting or checking emails is absolutely out of the question. Using your PDA or tablet is appropriate, if the course of the meeting calls for it. Otherwise, fumbling with electronic devices may aggravate the speaker and transfer the uneasiness to other participants. The bottom line – turn them off or put them to silent before entering the meeting room.
Meetings are productive and efficient when the meeting staff works as a team. On the other hand, when the participants fail to follow the code of behavior, they might turn aggravating and tiring, which ultimately leads to the loss of interest and reflects negatively on the company’s turnover.