The web is chock full of advice regarding meetings and how to tackle them. Do this, don’t do that, here’s what to say to appear smart, and the list could go on. Personally, I think it all boils down to five Don’ts and just as many Do’s. I’ll save the positive ones for a later post. Right now, let’s look at what you shouldn’t do in a meeting. No ifs or buts.
Don’t show up late
It’s a golden rule. Everywhere. Regardless of the culture or the timezone, punctuality is still a must if you want to leave a good impression. Be a couple of minutes early, instead. You’ll be cool as a cucumber, and it will prove that you respect other people’s time. It might even save you from having to explain why you were late in the first place. You know. Some managers like to “stimulate” their underachievers by teasing them like that.
Don’t show up unprepared
It’s the adult-world equivalent of not doing your homework. Remember how embarrassing that was in school? It’s twice as embarrassing as a grownup. But just like in school, it lowers your “grades” and keeps you from moving up the ladder.
Don’t stuff your face like George Costanza
The first time I saw that epic Seinfeld episode, I thought to myself: “Wow! People really eat at meetings, huh?” But I soon realized that it wasn’t quite so. There’s relaxed environments, and then there’s business environments – where people know when it’s work time, play time, and lunch time. It’s a good thing to differentiate between the three if you’re looking to get stuff done. Shrimp has no place being anywhere near client contracts, statistics, or invoices.
Don’t check your smartphone all the time
If you must see who beeped you, do it fast and then put away the handset. If it’s an urgent call, you might as well leave the room and deal with your problem. It’s still better than appearing distracted by your personal life. I enable airplane mode whenever I go into a meeting. Whoever has died will not come back from the dead if I answer the phone. If my house is burning down, the neighbors would have called in the firefighters long before I find out.
Don’t say “yes” when you really mean “no”
Granted, it takes guts to refuse a direct order. But at the same time, it’s even less advisable to accept a task that you know you can’t fulfill. So if you feel you’re unprepared for what’s being handed to you, take a deep breath and just say pass. You’ll thank yourself later (if you still have your job, that is 😉 .
For some advisable practices in meetings this time around, check back in soon for 5 Things You Should Always Be Prepared For In a Meeting.