8 Golden Rules for Meeting Etiquette

8 Golden Rules for Meeting Etiquette

The variables that can affect a business transaction are numerous. Did both parties get enough sleep the night before? How is their home life? Are they feeling reckless for some reason? Anything that can alter the way a person makes decisions is going to be a relevant factor in the success of any meeting. While there are some things (the other party not acting amenable due to lack of sleep) that you cannot control, there are a number of elements of a potential meeting that can be planned and controlled to ensure that the goals of a given meeting are achieved.

Look Good Feel Good Play Good

It has been said that you should dress for the type of person you want to be, not for the type of person you are. As was mentioned earlier, meetings are a key place where determinate opinions are formed. What you wear should be appropriate and where you meet should foster productivity.

Beyond the considerations of wearing the right type of clothes are those of what type of atmosphere and ambiance enable productivity. This can be a stumbling block for some organizations. Having a serious meeting regarding the future of a company requires a professional backdrop that is not afforded by just any office space. For that reason, it is a good idea to use a service that allows you to rent an office, whether it is an individual workstation of an entire office suite. This website will provide you with options for great meeting spaces.

Different types of meetings require different styles of dress. Determining what kind of event status the meeting will have will determine if you can get away with a t-shirt or if you need to go with a dark suit.


The first rule of holding a meeting is being at the site of the meeting when the meeting is set to occur. Among the simpler of the golden rules for meeting etiquette, when and how you arrive at the location of your business meeting is key to the success of the whole action.

It is important to remember that who you are meeting with is forming an opinion about you. Every piece of data that they discern is going to make an impact on whether they trust you, believe that you are a competent person, and yes, whether you are able to be profitable to whatever it is you are meeting for. Thinking about two hypothetical situations will help illustrate the point.

You have a meeting with members of the office that you work in. It is set to start at 10:00 AM and will be held in your office’s conference room. Because it is being held at your office you do not make any arrangements to arrive any earlier than you normally would. Then something happens, the dog eats your shoe, the kids need to be taken to school, or there is unusual traffic on the highway. Any or all of these things cause you to get to the office later than you’d like and you end up walking into the conference room at 10:07 AM. Surely seven minutes is not a big deal, especially considering all that you had to overcome just to get there right?

This self-excusing logic may fly for you but you didn’t have the same hypothetical experience that everyone else in the meeting did. Everyone else works up early to make sure that they would be on time. They arranged a few days in advance for the kids to be taken to school by a neighbor. They even made sure to polish their shoes and set them on the top shelf to save them from the dog. They were aware traffic was going to be bad and planned an alternate route. You came to disheveled and tardy.

Plan ahead and be on time.

The Agenda

If you are the party in charge of the meeting then the surest way to fail is lacking agenda. Whether you are meeting with people from within the ranks of your own organization or representative from an outside interest they will be looking for the reason they are there. Functional productivity should always be the goal of your meeting. It is your job to utilize the time the attendants are allocating to you in such a way as to leave them feeling like that time was well spent.

Designing a proper agenda is a skill and takes practice and experience. For tips on getting started click here


Meetings do not need to be marathons. This golden rule for etiquette goes hand in hand with what was mentioned in the agenda section. Everyone has an amount of time that they can work before they start to lose their edge. By scheduling brief, evenly distributed breaks in the agenda of the meeting you can ensure that all participants are able to contribute effectively while the actual work is being done.

There is no hard and fast rule about the duration of breaks or amenities provided during them. However, it is a good idea to secure enough time to allow meeting attendees to feel refreshed. To that end, it is courteous to provide lite beverages and snacks.


Every participant in every meeting has something that they want to achieve. The challenge is to balance those priorities. One of the best rules of thumb is to match the assertiveness of others. That is, if the other party(s) are aggressively suggesting ideas that favor only them, it may be okay to listen and respond in kind. So long as cooler heads prevail the mutual desire for progress will lead to cooperation.

In the opposite case where the other party is timid and not engaging, it may be a good idea to also be reserved. Being overly assertive in this case may turn off those who are participating. By stating your objectives for the meeting upfront and helping all present to remember those objectives you stand a better chance at getting done what you need to get done.

Deviation and Tangent

Deviations from the agenda can be meeting killers. Work hard to keep yourself focused on the contents of the meeting. Do not allow yourself or others to bring up topics that do not serve the purpose of the meeting. Doing so is more than rude, it effectively eats away at the clock without moving the meeting in any productive direction.

Respect the Contribution of Others

There will be times when others who are present in a meeting will say something that does not seem productive or even correct. It is never a good idea to make a habit of immediately pointing out or correcting everything that you deem incongruous to the desired goals of the meeting. Instead, apply the principles of assertiveness and remind yourself of how you would want your own errors treated within the context of the meeting. Meeting people where they are ideationally and functionally will help establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

The Cellular Telephone

Cell phones should not be present during a meeting of any significance.

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