Meetings are an important part of the work day. When used properly they can be productive brain storming and information sharing sessions ripe with problem solving and collaboration. As we all know, however, Corporate America has a reputation for having too many meetings that could’ve been an email or having meetings that end up being a total waste of time. Since meetings make up a large portion of the work day for many, you should avoid turning them into a huge time suck by ruining them with bad meeting etiquette or generally bad manners.
Being completely unprepared. Being prepared for your upcoming meeting is important to help ensure the meeting flows properly and that the right items get taken care of before the hour runs out. Being generally unprepared for the meeting leads to a jumbled mess taking place and can cause frustration among attendees with you and can make others feel like you’re wasting their time. Be prepared for your upcoming meeting by setting an agenda that includes the intent/purpose of the meeting, what your goal for it is, and any questions on the meeting topic you already have gathered and ensure that the agenda is in the meeting invite sent in advance to the proper attendees.
Adding qualifiers to your statements and make excuses for your questions. Regardless of if you’re leading or just attending the meeting, when in the workplace you need to exude confidence and avoid looking unsure about what you are doing or stating. If you have a question, just ask it, if you need clarification on something someone said, then ask for it. Stop saying things like “I know I should know this, but…” or “This may be a dumb question, but…” Ask your question directly, without excuse or belittling yourself, otherwise, you leave room for others to do the same.
Repeating what others have said just to be heard. Sometimes the most boss thing you can do is to not say anything at all. While being heard and making yourself known is important in making an impact and moving onward in your carer, don’t be that person that repeats others to be heard, too. If you agree with someone, lift their voice up by stating you agree with them and ensure the mic is passing properly in the meeting. Plus, when we leave room for folks to just keep repeating themselves or others, precious meeting minutes get wasted.
Talking too much and hog the floor. Similarly to wasting time by repeating others, when making your own points, be sure to make your own points and statements concisely. Don’t use 200 words when 20 will do and respect the time of others by allowing them to speak and provide their opinion as well. If you say something and someone doesn’t understand fully and asks for elaboration, then elaborate, but don’t turn everything you say into a dissertation.
Becoming argumentative and bickering with coworkers. Disagreements occur often in the workplace, and differing opinions should be presented in order to get a diverse take on the situation and to understand all points of view. However, when it turns into an ego battle or an argument, the meeting turns into a cage match instead of a collaboration and that becomes insanely awkward for everyone at the table, not to mention it makes the meeting very nonproductive. You can make your own counter points without putting others down and by approaching their different points with curiosity and asking questions, instead of calling them out and being rude.
Using your phone or laptop. Unless you’re taking notes or looking up something that is relevant to the meeting, avoid your phone and laptop at all costs. We get it, you have a lot to do and want to multi task, but to a lot of folks, especially those giving a presentation in the meeting, being on your phone or on your laptop comes across as rude and can be very distracting to others and to you because you may end up missing important information because you were too busy responding to an email that could’ve waited twenty more minutes.
If you’re looking to turn a meeting into a useless gathering of the masses, then you just need to forego any of the basic communication etiquette you learned in school and be so unprepared that even you don’t even remember what is on the agenda (because you never even made one). We know. meetings aren’t always the most fun place to be, but sometimes they have to happen in order to get more things done and to collaborate. Don’t make them worse by coming unprepared, breaking communication etiquette, or zoning out with your phone or computer.