James Campanini of Cisco WebEx looks at the way business meeting etiquette has evolved – and provides a series of useful tips to help get you thinking about meeting etiquette, regardless of the where or how it takes place.
With external and internal business meetings taking up a third of our working day and the increasing availability of collaboration technology, the way many of us conduct meetings has changed. Collaboration and communication has proved to be key for business and employees seeking a flexible working environment while maintaining efficiency. But, with a change in meeting style, comes an inevitable need to adapt meeting etiquette.
The onus for adopting collaboration technology should not necessarily fall on the organisation. Increasingly, we are seeing individuals within the business taking the initiative and purchasing their own licences and tools. By introducing elements such as video, live document sharing and virtual meetings, they are able to improve the quality and productivity of their own meetings and stand out from their peers.
As improving efficiency is a priority for most, and travel restrictions and reduced budgets have become commonplace, virtual meetings are increasingly more frequent. Thanks to this growing trend, business managers need to learn new skills in order to keep people engaged and to use the time and technology effectively – providing a platform to deliver productive meetings with tangible outcomes.
With that in mind, have you considered whether or not your employees think attending meetings is a good use of their time? And are they conscious of adopting meeting etiquette across all business meetings, whether face-to-face or otherwise?
There are many ways to improve and maintain your meeting etiquette, which result in real benefits for both the company and employee.
Having your laptop in front of you in a meeting can be beneficial, but don’t let it distract you. Try not to check emails that aren’t related to the meeting, stay on task and concentrate on any possible actions that you might have to do. Likewise avoid being distracted by your phone, keeping it switched off for the duration of the meeting.
Before entering any kind of business meeting, try to make sure you have at least one point to contribute to the discussion. Contributing makes you look proactive, willing and interested in the subject, and bodes well for when people need to rely on you to deliver on actions.
If you have documents to share or ,specific points to raise in the meeting make sure you’ve prepared them in advance. That way you won’t have to struggle to find the documents after the meeting, improving speed and efficiency. Ensuring that all unnecessary documents are closed on your laptop is essential to avoid embarrassment and confusion.
Don’t take notes, record instead
While notes can be useful and help you to stay on task later on, they can be distracting and draw you away from the meeting. Try to use a recording function and only take notes of your own actions, then you can listen to your recording later at your own convenience. Alternatively, allocate one person to take notes and ask for the minutes to be sent after the meeting. This ensures maximum efficiency for the duration of the meeting.
If you’re on a conference call and you’re in busy surroundings such as an office, or even a public place, use mute to remove any background noise that could cause disruption to the business meeting. Ensuring you are ready to speak when required is equally important, so be alert and prepared.
Presentation is key
Whether you will be seen on webcam or face-to-face, consider the clothes you’re wearing, the way your hair looks and the way you act. Looking scruffy and dishevelled could make other participants think you’ve just woken up and are unprepared for the meeting. Never underestimate the power of presentation in business, first impressions count, even when meeting over video.
Being prompt applies to all meetings; video conferencing, teleconferencing or face-to-face. Joining the business meeting five minutes early won’t hurt anyone and shows you’re prepared, on task and efficient in the way you manage your work load, ensuring meetings are ready to start on time and so therefore avoiding time wasting.
Use video appropriately
With flexible working now the norm, not all meetings are face-to-face and the great advantage of using video conferencing is that you can use it almost anywhere. Working at home is the preferred choice for many people these days; however calling with the washing machine purring in the background can be distracting for others in the video conference. Make sure your surroundings are appropriate to avoid causing a different discussion than the intended subject of the meeting.
Adapt meeting style
Adopting a style suitable to your meeting audience is important to manage and build relationships to ensure you achieve what is required from the meeting – whether it is with clients, suppliers, colleagues or otherwise. Manage your choice of meeting platform accordingly, leveraging the use of video conferencing where most suitable.
Ensure all meetings are necessary
Eliminating meetings that are unnecessary and ensuring invitations are removed from calendars ensures maximum productivity without wasting time. Consistently questioning meetings to make sure they are critical to delivering your objectives and achieving targets is important in making the transition and reviewing those meetings which are no longer required – it is easy to get stuck into a pattern without stopping to think about the reason for conducting the meeting in the first place.
To manage meeting etiquette across all sectors and areas of the business, a top down approach is required whereby such a programme is championed by decision makers. It’s important to ensure employees recognise the importance of such etiquette regardless of meeting location and style – being consistent, proactive and reliable will provide a solid ground for business productivity and efficiency whilst providing results for the individual.