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Rules for Meetings

There are a few important rules for meetings that everyone should follow. These rules will create the impression of professionalism and actually make you a professional. Whether you’re going to be sitting across colleagues or competitors and whether you are attending or holding, it will cost you nothing to be polite and to leave a fine impression upon everyone in the room.


There is no such thing as fashionably late in the business world. These are extremely busy people who have other things to do – it’s best to show that you understand the value of everyone’s time by showing up on time, if not early.

Reply, Reply, Reply: 

When invited to a business meeting, do not simply let the date pass. If you intend on joining the meeting, reply. If you intend on missing the meeting or plan on not attending, reply.

Pen and Paper: 

Unless you have eidetic memory, you should have something to write down the notes of the meeting on. The purpose of the meeting was to give you whatever information you needed to get there, not after. Clarifying all but the most important details may give the impression that you weren’t listening.

The Dress Code: 

Not all business meetings are held during office hours. One of the most overlooked rules for business meetings is that you must understand what the dress code is. If you’re not sure, simply ask the person or their assistant to make sure that you don’t end up being overdressed or worse, underdressed. If you are hosting the meeting, let people know what the dress code is so no one is confused.


Efficiency is important. If you are part of the meeting’s speakers, make sure to prepare your handouts and your presentations up to three days in advance. The handouts can actually be sent days in advance to give people the chance to take a look at them before the meeting itself.

Timing Your Talk: 

This depends on the kind of meeting you’re having. Some meetings are not meant for discussion or discourse. In these meetings, you should not interrupt the speaker unless otherwise noted. The same goes for talking to seatmates or colleagues during the presentation as it can be construed as and often actually is extremely rude.

That Goes for Your Mobile Phone Too: 

Turn it off or set it to vibrate and leave it in your pocket. One of the most important rules for meetings is to not interrupt the speaker with anything. Don’t set it to vibrate then leave it on the table, as it will still make a rattling noise. In fact, just keep it in your pocket – putting it on the table basically indicates that you are ready to respond to something other than the meeting at hand, which should not be the case.


One of the most overlooked rules for meetings –but only because it is assumed that most people know it by heart- is to simply stay for the entiry of the meeting, unless you have prior permission to leave in the middle. Leaving in the middle of a meeting can be extremely disruptive and can reflect badly on the speaker. Make sure to ask for their permission.

Seniority Wins: 

Given a discussion, allow your superiors to speak first. They’ve earned their positions and they’ve earned the right to open discussion before you.    

Related Articles - Rules for Meetings:

Effective Business Meetings
Effective Meetings

Return from Rules for Meetings to Effective Meetings 

Outstanding Leaders consider themselves a work in progress
 Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

lead and learn

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