The Dos and Don’ts of English Meetings – The Language Professional

The Dos and Don’ts of English Meetings

DEVELOP YOUR WORK ENGLISH

​It's Wednesday, 10am, and Sarah's getting the meeting room ready while a few people begin to walk in. Pete is chatting with Steve about cars, while Jessie dances in singing. Henry's already got his notepad out and Stacy is nowhere to be seen.

​One meeting, many ​different behaviours. In this article, we ​​explore how the way we act in meetings affects what people think about us and discuss what we should and shouldn't do before, during and after a meeting.

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The way you act in meetings matters

​A room full of people often has many voices, many behaviours and many personalities. There's one person who always arrives late, another who everyone seems to listen to and another who seems to pay more attention to their phone than the meeting.

But meetings aren't just a way to fill up time in your week. They serve an important purpose: a way to update staff on important company news, discuss problems, create solutions, make plans and set tasks for afterwards. And if they don't have these things, well, they really should have.

Be a 'participant', not an 'attendee'

Although we use the word 'attendees' to describe people who go to a meeting, don't be a person who just 'attends'. Another (probably better) word is also used to describe people who attend meetings: 'participants'. You should aim to 'participate' or 'take part in' a meeting - which involves more than just being in the room. If a meeting is important enough for you to be there physically, then it's also important enough for you to be there mentally.

The way you behave says as much about who you are as a person as it does about how professional you are as a worker. So, as participants in a meeting we should always try to help make it a success. We should believe in ourselves enough to know that we have something valuable to share, while doing what we can to encourage our workmates to be involved too.

With that said, let's take a look at the dos and don'ts of any meeting.

The Do's and Don'ts of Business Meetings

BEFORE

​Do

  • ​find out what the meeting's about if you don't know - it'll help prepare your mind before the meeting 
  • ​turn your phone on silent - again, it's about respect
  • ​​be social - the moments before a meeting starts are great opportunities to get to know anyone you don't already know and begin to build a professional relationship with them.

​Don't

  • ​forget to take a pen and notepad - fine, you might not need it, but a useful meeting will often have important details that you'll want to look back at later
  • be late - out of respect to your workmates, don't be the one who causes everyone to waste time
DURING

​Do

  • ​​participate - don't do all the talking, but don't sit at the back without saying a word
  • ​be positive - offer ideas and solutions, invite other members to speak and avoid blaming people - positivity is what drives a meeting forward and helps make sure it's useful for everyone
  • ​take notes - make clear notes of any key points that you think you'll need to look back at, as well as anything that involves you

​Don't

  • ​​​​​​get distracted - pay attention, listen carefully​ and avoid side-conversations with other attendees
  • just ​​raise problems​ - suggest possible solutions and offer your own help in trying to ​deal with them
  • ​​avoid responsibility - if you failed to do something you agreed to do or if something is your fault, accept responsibility and offer to ​help improve the situation

AFTER

​Do

  • ​Take action - if you've been given a task that requires working with someone else, then use this opportunity to speak with them and make plans
  • ​Be social - yes, again, the time after a meeting often allows the chance to build your professional relationships further

​Don't

  • throw your notes away - organise them in a way that you can find what you need easily

​Which of these things do you do in meetings? Share your thoughts by writing a comment below.

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