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 go along with 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 meet
together to help find resources and ideas to build each others businesses. One
person’s cell 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
- Do not put your Blackberry, Treo, or other email organizer 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.
- 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.
- Do not leave your cell phone turned on. This goes along
with #1. We all know what an interruption this can cause.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not come to the meeting unprepared. Prepared means in
the way of carrying a pen, pencil, paper, notepad; whatever it takes for you to
be ready if information is shared.
- Do not make your presence known by making noises. Noises
being pen or pencil tapping, paper shuffling, 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 behavior but it will get your message across
without you verbalizing it.
For those individuals hoping to aspire to a certain level in business, learn
and practice good business etiquette. If portrayed correctly it will help to
launch your position in business and you will always be a welcome presence with
Carole DeJarnatt is the President of Alliance Advisors, Inc., a