Meetings are generally a professional setting and should be treated as such. This means it is very important to show up in professional attire, well rested, alert and most importantly on time. Meetings tend to drag or bore those who are not directly involved in the conversation. If you are not sure how you should act in a meeting, follow these guidelines and you will be just fine.
- Pay attention! This is probably the most important rule you have to follow in a meeting. If it is your boss giving a meeting the last thing you want is to be caught spacing off. It may be hard, but focus on what is being said. If it helps to take notes throughout the meeting. This can keep you focused on what is being said and will be a great way for you to review the meeting later. If you can, resist doodling on your note taking paper.
- Avoid side conversations with fellow meeting attendees. This is rude and very distracting to the rest of the group. A speaker will naturally lose the train of thought if another conversation is interrupting their presentation.
- Absolutely, positively one of the rudest ways to interrupt a meeting is a cell phone ringing. Either turn the cell phone or pager on vibrate or leave it off. This is usually an unspoken rule, but for those who just may not realize it is not polite, this is your notice. Another rule, do not answer the phone if it does ring. If your life or job requires you to answer, excuse yourself from the room before answering.
- When appropriate ask questions. Questions encourage participation in the discussion and can keep the attendees involved. Do not ask a question during the middle of a speech or presentation. Wait until they are invited.
- Do not get up to use the restroom or to get a drink of water until there is a break in the meeting. These things should be taken care of before the meeting commences. If a pitcher of water is on the table then it is appropriate to carefully pour yourself a glass.
- Text messaging during meetings is also a no-no. The constant vibrating phone with the incoming texts is distracting. Again, if it is an emergency, step out of the room to take care of the situation. It should also be mentioned that playing any kind of games or surfing the internet with your phone or palm pilot, would be considered in bad form during a professional meeting.
These simple rules may seem like a given to most, but there are some who do not consider any of these above topics as rude or an interruption. Meetings are a part of life and the best way to get through them is by being as professional as possible.