Seven Meeting Etiquette Rules Not to Forget

Business meetings are held for a variety of reasons, but they are always about sharing information. Just as in dining, there are certain rules of etiquette that it is important to follow during business meetings. Displaying poor meeting etiquette not only damages the quality of meetings, it also affects your chances of succeeding in your career field. Here are seven key rules to consider.

By Carole DeJarnatt

Business meetings are held for a variety of reasons, but one common characteristic is the sharing of information with others. As in dining, there are rules of etiquette that should be observed in meetings. I cannot believe the number of times I have been to meetings and some individuals in the room exhibit unprofessional business etiquette.

I recently was leading a meeting of business owners and managers who get together to help find resources and ideas to build each other’s businesses. One person’s mobile phone rang in the middle of a presentation and, instead of silencing it, they answered the phone. Not only did they answer it, they carried on a conversation for a brief time. I was appalled at the lack of courtesy.

I think it would probably be true to say that most people in business are aware of etiquette rules for meetings but I thought I would share my top seven:

  1. Do not put your Blackberry, Treo or other email organiser on the table. What does this do? Every time an email is received it causes a vibration that is echoed through the table for the whole room to hear and causes as much a distraction as if the phone had rang. Turn it off.
  2. Do not arrive late, make excuses to everyone while the presenter is speaking, and then go in search of coffee. If you arrive late, step in quickly and quietly while taking your seat. The less interruption the better.
  3. Do not leave your mobile phone turned on. This goes along with number 1. We all know what an interruption this can cause.
  4. Do not talk on your phone during the meeting. Just in case you forgot to turn it off, do not answer the phone in the middle of a meeting.
  5. Do not carry on a conversation while someone else is talking. I cannot believe the number of times I have witnessed someone trying to carry on a conversation with another in the middle of a presentation.
  6. Do not come to the meeting unprepared. Prepared means in the way of carrying a pen, pencil, paper, notepad and so on: whatever it takes for you to be ready if information is shared.
  7. Do not make your presence known by being noisy. Disruptive noises include pen or pencil tapping, paper shuffling and coughing continuously. If necessary, leave the room.

If you are a manager and have people who frequently display a lack of business etiquette, consider offering a mini-seminar to your department. Not only will it reinforce positive behaviour, it will also get your message across without you verbalising it.

For those individuals hoping to aspire to a certain level in business, learn and practice good business etiquette. If used correctly it will help to launch your position in business and you will always be a welcome presence with your peers.

Carole DeJarnatt is the president of Alliance Advisors, Inc., a business advisory and coaching firm for development and implementation of strategies to grow and enhance businesses for greater success in their future. For more information visit the company website at

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