Meetings are a powerful collaboration tool, and yet they’re often the butt of the joke. As it turns out, meetings themselves aren’t the problem: we may just be bad at them.
Don’t let yourself be a meeting menace. Master these etiquette tips and keep your meetings productive:
Start. On. Time.
This should be a no-brainer right? You sent out an invite for 10 am, so start the meeting at 10 am! Late starts equal wasted time, and no one wants to feel like their day isn’t being spent productively, especially if it’s because of someone else’s tardy meeting.
However, in today’s complicated meeting climate, there’s a lot more to consider to having a punctual start time than simply getting butts in seats.
For example, one of the primary culprits for late starts in today’s world of flex workers and telecommuters is technical difficulties: malfunctioning conferencing equipment, lost dial-in numbers and passcodes or finicky online meeting tools. As a meeting host, it’s your job to facilitate your guests with simple meeting invites, technology that has been tested and online meetings that are simple to join for mobile and in-office meeters alike.
When in doubt, always test the tech!
Remember the Introductions
Regardless of whether you’re the meeting host or you’re joining a meeting with vendors or clients, it’s always good practice to start any meeting with a round of introductions. This is especially important in virtual meetings and conference calls, where guests may have nothing more to go on than a profile picture or a voice when meeting someone for the first time.
A quick round-the-horn of names, titles and responsibilities will go a long way towards making everyone feel more at ease and helps the group understand what everyone else can contribute and is hoping to accomplish by meeting in the first place.
Avoid Dead Air
Dead air in meetings can be a productivity and mood killer. There are any number of causes for awkward pauses: unclear objectives, inactive meeting hosts, distracted guests or tough questions. However, many of these can be easily prevented with a little planning.
For starters, you can avoid beginning your meeting with dead air by having a clearly communicated meeting objective, including planned key takeaways, decisions and action items.
Keep your meeting humming along by adhering to an agenda, even if the agenda is simply a bulleted list of topics to cover. As the host, it’s your job to navigate the meeting from one topic to the next, so keep your agenda in front of you at all times!
Finally, don’t let tough questions kill your meeting momentum. If a question is lingering because no one is capable or willing to answer, make a note to circle back and move on.
Master Your Mute Button
Few things in work life are as embarrassing as a mute button faux pas on a web or audio conference. It doesn’t matter how professional you are, how good your ideas are or how much of a team-player you are; all it takes is one unmuted toilet flush to tarnish your reputation for good.
When meeting online, always take the time to find and master your mute button, whether it’s on your online meeting tool, smartphone or desk phone. Knowing how to quickly mute yourself will save you from plenty of embarrassing moments and ensure that you’re not disrupting the meeting experience for anyone else. Just because you’re having a sneezing fit or a sidebar with a coworker doesn’t mean the rest of the meeting has to hear it!
Looking for more business etiquette tips? Download our free eBook and learn proper etiquette for email, conference calls, meetings and social media!