March 14, 2019

evening business meeting at tableFew events in the lives of employees are met with such conflicting opinions as the business meeting. There are those who love business meetings because they are where big decisions are made, and real problems are discussed. There are others who feel that meetings can be a huge waste of time, and nothing ever comes of them. If you are of the latter opinion, then we have some dos and don’ts that might make your future business meetings more successful and productive.

Do obtain or create an agenda in advance
If you are going to be attending a meeting that has been scheduled by a coworker or a supervisor, ask for an agenda beforehand so you have an idea what will be discussed. If you will be expected to contribute to the agenda, create a smaller agenda for yourself. This way you will stay on topic and remain organized.

Don’t forgo your own note-taking
Do not substitute the agenda for your own personal note-taking as there might be specific topics, details or assignments that pertain to you more than than they do other employees, and you will want to record those details for yourself.

Do sit appropriately and comfortably
When you take your place at the meeting table, make sure you are seated at about eye level with the rest of the participants. Adjust your chair if necessary. It might seem unprofessional if you are seated significantly lower than the rest of your co-workers. Make sure to be seated comfortably. It is distracting to sit in a meeting with someone who is constantly fidgeting or adjusting their sitting posture.

Don’t keep personal items on the table
Personal items such as food, wallet or keys should be placed where they will not be seen. If you have items visible, it gives the impression that you are not fully invested in the meeting. It is an unwritten and well-understood rule that cell phones should be turned off and not restarted until after the meeting ends, as it is unprofessional to check your cell phone during a business meeting of any kind.

Do try to contribute
If you have been invited to attend a meeting, someone has decided that your opinion is important to the conversation. If you have a point that you believe has value to discussion, speak up.

Don’t speak too softly
When you speak, make sure you actually speak up. Do not speak so softly that some, in attendance, might not hear you. This can convey a lack of confidence. Speak loudly and clearly, so everyone can hear and understand you.

Do keep people on topic
Nobody likes when meetings feel like they last forever. If members of your meeting seem to be getting off track, it is not a bad idea to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.

Don’t discourage ideas or fun
Keeping the conversation on topic, doesn’t mean you should discourage others from giving ideas. Ask that everyone writes down off-topic ideas and send them out after the meeting. This way they can be discussed at the appropriate time. This is referred to as the “parking lot” method. Meetings should not become robotic and soulless affairs. There should be room for banter and conversation, because employees are more engaged when they are excited. Meetings, as reported by, should be on task “90-95 percent of the time and allow for 5-10 percent of the meeting to be devoted to tangential discussions or personal anecdotes.”.

Leadership in Action photoLiA
The conclusion to Leadership in Action’s “Preparing for Professional Life” webinar series is at noon ET Friday, April 12. Register for the Professional Communication Lunch and Learn webinar today. Want to watch the rest of the series? Watch the first two parts on “Interview Skills, Resumes & Cover Letters” and “Networking” here.

Alumni Words of Wisdom
“The company for which you work has a huge impact on your self value, so make sure your values and the value of your company are compatible. If you wake up every day dreading going to work, it's time for a change of environment.” -- Brittany Harbison, Epsilon Alpha Chapter ’13

Do you have advice for your fellow graduating cohort or future graduating seniors? Do you have photos of your graduation regalia? Send them to Christopher Kostelnik, Alumni Relations Coordinator, at, and they might be featured in a future blog post!

Article Sources to Run a Business Meeting: 8 Dos and Don’ts Meeting Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts Etiquette Rules For Meetings That Every Professional Should Know Tips To More Productive Meetings Steps to Get a Meeting Back On Track