Some people love meetings and others dread them. Despite having the reputation as sleep enhancers, meetings are actually an opportunity for you to network with management, fellow employees, clients and vendors. You may be asked to help with problem solving and share in making decisions at a meeting or you may be included for the sole purpose of building relationships with other attendees. No matter how you feel about meetings, this is a chance for you to use your best business manners to showcase your abilities. If your meeting manners aren’t impressive, you won’t be either. Here are seven helpful tips for making the most of the business meeting:
1. Check your calendar immediately and let the appropriate person know if you can attend. If you cannot be present, say why.
2. Get ready for the meeting. Review the agenda, read any important materials such as memos or briefs and use the Internet to research topics if necessary. Make it clear that you are a person who attends to details and comes prepared.
3. Let the organizer know that you will be an active and interested participant by asking if there is anything else you should know or do in advance. If you find research material that would contribute substantially to the meeting, offer it to the meeting leader.
4. Arrive on time, not too early and certainly not late. You may interfere with the meeting preparation if you show up more than ten minutes in advance. If you arrive late, you create a distraction and an interruption. Offer a brief apology—not an excuse of epic proportions—and take your seat.
5. Choose your seat carefully if seating is not assigned. If you are new to the group, ask where you should sit so you don’t accidentally take the spot where someone else customarily sits.
6. Participate and show that you are involved. Making eye contact, smiling, leaning into the conversation and nodding are all ways to let others know that you are engaged. Be careful not to interrupt. You may have a brilliant point to make, but wait for the right moment.
7. When the meeting is over, offer to help clean up and volunteer to distribute handouts or do extra research if appropriate. Let the meeting leader know that you paid attention and you are willing and able to take on extra assignments when needed.Lydia Ramsey is an international business etiquette expert. She is the president and founder of Manners That Sell, a firm based in Savannah, Georgia, offering business etiquette training through seminars, keynotes and executive coaching to corporations, associations, colleges and universities. She began her career as an etiquette consultant over thirty years ago and has become one of the foremost trainers in her field. People from all industries and professions come to her business etiquette classes to add the polish that builds profits.