Thursday, 24 February 2011

Square Thinking: Meeting Etiquette

We are in the meeting business and have sat through several great meetings – and some not so great ones. We thought we should share our views on what meetings are meant to be. Most of you already know these so I'll be brief (and take a stab at humour while I'm at it). Below is our list of some things to do and some best avoided at meetings:

Some Dos
Passion: Bring it on and then some. Don’t be shy when it comes to displaying how engaging and interesting your vision is. Checking for a pulse between awkward silences is only endearing if you are a tween on your first date. We need energy.

Scope: Respect the framework (and time) set for the meeting . It also goes a long way if you can email your discussion points ahead of the meeting.

Cultural Awareness: The flip side of the coin where people are entitled to be themselves is that it is important to gauge and tune in to the cultural sensibilities of your partner. For example, an Englishman should not have to behave like an American to be "real" or "true to themself" to the American. Listening without pre-conceived ideas of what the other party is trying to say is key.

Some Don'ts
Esoterism: If your business model or ethos is based on pop science or pop psychology then Houston, we have a problem. Some conversations are best after a few pints at the pub, and with friends who already appreciate you loopy et al. Religion sadly falls into this category because it tends to alienate others. So it is probably not a good idea to bring it up unless you have relevant post graduate qualifications to back you up.

Aggression: This also ties in with being yourself. Unless iyou are the type of person that thinks about pouring tonic water down your friend's laptop for fun, then you really should not be afraid of expressing your true self. The bolshy alpha-male stereotype is less relevant in business today than it ever has been. Swearing, feet on the table (I kid you not, I’ve seen it happen), interrogation-style conversations and fist banging makes your discussant feel like either doing a quick search for anger management therapies or pushing you under the night bus to Camden.

Interrupting: It is just as embarrassing as trying to finish off your counterpart's sentences. In two words, simply rude.

Time keeping: Last but not least, it goes without saying that coming to a meeting late does not do you any favours. Life crops up admittedly but greater promptness can be achieved by improving time management skills and confidence to just say no when times clash. When late, a simple apology without excuses but with a genuine smile should be sufficient to thaw even a Pharaoh's stony heart. And if you need to cancel or reschedule, please take Mark Suster's advice on the right way to cancel a meeting.

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