Rules of Meetings: What to do and What to Avoid

Meetings will soon fill your day in Corporate America.  Often times it is challenging to juggle your priorities of completing your daily tasks and going to meetings.  But the influx of meetings will never end.  Since so much time is spent in meetings, there are a number of things to keep in mind, especially as a new employee:

Do:

  • Take notes.  As a new employee you will often be delegated the task of sending out meeting minutes.  Take copious note so you can develop a strong meeting recap.  Plus, taking notes allows you to remember any questions you have.  Bringing us to our next point…
  • Ask questions.  If you are unclear on a concept being discussed in a meeting, ask.  It is important to know the setting and make sure your question is appropriate for the audience, but don’t be shy to speak up and ask your questions
  • Have a clear understanding of action items before leaving the meeting.  Be sure to reiterate what the action items are so everyone involved is 100% clear on who is doing what.  So many meetings end and there is a lack of clarity.  You can avoid this by being proactive and saying: “I want to be clear on action items before we leave.  This is my understanding of who is doing what: ___.”  The rest of the meeting will appreciate that you took this action 

Avoid:

  • Looking at other devices.  This is a huge challenge.  You have your computer and your phone, which are full of endless distractions.  Keep your computer on a note-taking program (or close your computer) and your phone in your pocket and do not deviate.  It is crucial as a new employee that you are focused in meetings in order to to make a good impression - reduce your distractions and multi-tasking 
  • Multi-tasking.  While in a meeting, be present and engaged.  Don’t join a meeting and send emails the whole time.  If you feel the need to send emails at that time, don’t come to the meeting
  • Getting off track of the meeting objective.  Getting off track is very easy to do in a meeting.  Stay focused on the purpose and objective of the meeting.  If you notice the meeting is getting off track, ask the group: “Can that be discussed in a separate meeting? I’d like to stay on track to the purpose of the meeting.”  Meeting participants are understanding of this and will, likely, be happy to accommodate your request

These are a few rules of meetings, though there are plenty more.  Keep these in mind and you will be able to jump right into meetings in a productive and respectful manner.

Thought Starters:

  • What rules do you have in meetings?
  • Have you seen anyone breaking any of these rules?  How was the situation handled?