Meetings become quickly unproductive if etiquette rules are not followed or ignored. These are the essential rules to follow to ensure meetings can be as productive as possible.
1) Mingle Before.
Chat with co-workers and other meeting attendees before the meeting begins. Knowing who is at the table reduces sharing anxiety later on in the meeting. Try to start this process with the highest-ranked executive in the room.
2) Verbal Precision.
Say what needs to be said. Only repeat yourself if necessary. Avoid the temptation to explore thought tangents.
3) Initiate It.
If you are the highest-ranked person in the meeting, then it is on you to greet everyone. If you know you hold a higher rank than someone else, then initiate a handshake first, regardless of gender.
4) Stand Up.
If you’re introduced in a meeting, then stand up. It will be more difficult to ignore your key points later on in the meeting. Stretching your legs for a couple seconds can help you feel better too.
If you’re late to a meeting, then you’re wasting time. There are times when being late is unavoidable. In that circumstance, let the meeting organizer know with as much advance notice as possible.
6) Gender Rules.
Meetings should avoid social gender rules whenever possible. Opening a door for someone is okay. Pulling out a chair for someone might be questionable. Talking down to someone because of their gender (or race, ethnicity, sexual preference, religion, etc.) is completely unacceptable.
7) Speak Up.
If you do contribute to a meeting, then let your voice ring out. You should be loud enough that everyone in the meeting can hear you.
8) Stick to the Agenda.
Make sure that your meeting stays on-point by sticking to an agenda. If you’re not in charge of the agenda, but the meeting keeps going off-track, then gently contribute an idea that gets everyone back on the same page.
9) Be Prepared.
If you know what your role in a meeting happens to be, then you can prepare for your moment in advance. It is helpful to anticipate questions you may be asked to ensure there is no confusion about what you’re presenting.
When these business etiquette rules are followed, meetings become more productive. Period.