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Meeting Etiquette: Part of Ongoing Relationship Development With Coworkers

I've been going to a lot of meetings lately. There has been a lot said about conducting good meetings in the productivity blog world. Beyond the basics of agendas and other meeting specifics. I think meetings are a direct reflection on the leader not just the project. Many people don't consider the future when they plan and conduct meetings. Those you're asking to attend the current meeting are probably the same coworkers you will invite to meetings on the next project. Here are some thoughts on meetings with that in mind.

Clarity of Purpose. - Invited parties will be sure to ask questions about the meeting and the items to be discussed. Be ready with answers. If your answers are the content of the meeting you may not need the meeting just email, blog posts, wikis or other forms of communication. Meetings are about discussions not brain dumps. If you invite people to a info dump that they could get by reading an email, a report or an internal blog they won't want to come to your future info dumps meetings.
Reason Plus Details - I have been invited to a few meetings with just a title and a date and time. No hint as to why or what is being requested or discussed. It's too easy to send those Outlook meeting invites with too little information. Example: Project Y meeting, Tuesday 3 pm vs. Deliverable planning meeting for Project Y. Seeking input and ideas on the design of the deliverables. If your invited parties have to seek more information about the meeting before they are able to decide on attending you're wasting their time right off the bat.
At Your Service - Pay attention to who you are inviting to a given meeting. If your meeting includes those outside your office you should coordinate with them to see when they are most available for a meeting. For regular meetings periodically solicit feedback on the scheduling of the meeting. Bend your staff or team meetings around your workflow not the other way around. This honors people's time and keeps an organization agile.
Protect your Reputation - The quality of your meetings from invitation through to follow-up are a reflection of your professionalism. If your meetings are unorganized, behind schedule, unfocused, poorly run your coworkers will be less inclined to attend future meetings. You know, the one you have to have because nothing got done from the last one.
Appreciation - Be sure to value and appreciate the time and input that your meeting participants gave your meeting. You have a wide variety of options for how to thank people. Personal emails, group emails, blog posts, hand written notes, personal visits to their workspace, voicemail messages, etc. Invest the time and attention to appropriately appreciate people who come to your meetings.
Mentor those who don't do it right - people aren't born with(and seldom taught) the skills to plan and lead good meetings. When it goes poorly for your coworkers or reports take the time to mentor them to improve their meeting skills. You'll directly benefit next time you are in their meeting.

Of course, the golden rule is the guiding principle. Don't do or ask anything of your meeting participants that you don't like when others do it to you. How do you feel about wacky hats, noisemakers, seating hierarchies, agendas, meeting locations, etc.? Chances are others feel the same way.

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October 6, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Books, Business newsletter, Current Affairs | Permalink


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Thanks for this insightful blog on meetings. Meetings are so valuable if managed well, and so wasteful if not. I put a link to this blog from my own blog. I would like all of my clients to read this.

Posted by: Dr. Darrel Ray | Oct 7, 2005 2:55:24 PM

Creating a successful meeting is like creating a successful TV commercial. There's a great deal of pre-production work to be done. Setting meeting outcomes, briefing speakers, inviting the right people, creating the agenda and handouts, politely warning your bosses not to abuse powerpoint (never works) etc. Pre-production work may actually take longer than the meeting itself.

Second, start and end the durn thing on time or risk losing the respect of your attendees.

Posted by: Glenn | Oct 11, 2005 12:54:10 PM