This article is written for everyone and is not guidance, but essential must-dos for attending meetings.
Meetings can be a horrible waste of time and sometimes people leave being more confused before they entered. Or they can be hugely informative, help to build relationships and ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. We always go for the latter
How to Dress
Depending on the meeting you might need to wear neat casual clothing or a suit. Neat casual means:
- dark jeans or slacks-button-up shirt or blouse (blouse only for women)
Do's and Don't's
- Don't try to be cool in how you dress
- Don't attempt to express your individually or style in clothing - do this in your professional conduct instead
- Do feel natural and relaxed in how you dress
- Don't wear anything stained, ripped or in any way damaged
- Don't have trousers low or styled in any other way that is "fashionable"
- Do dress simply and classicly
For suits just keep it simple; dark blue, dark grey, never shiny.
What to bring
Preparation is essential. Make sure you have:
- A notebook - nothing scrappy and it needs to have plenty of fresh pages on it. An A4 pad is also OK. Do NOT use a tablet or phone for this - people may thinkyou are distracted
- At least three different colours of pens (helpful for doing drawings)
- Business cards- All relevant project files - either printed or on a laptop
- A print off of key project documents, like a floor plan or quote
- A fully charged phone
- And if the meeting involves a site visit, refer to the Site Visit Checklist for other items
What to know in advance
Going into a meeting and not knowing the background to the project is embarrassing and will instantly make people lose respect for you. Before you enter make sure you are clear on the following:
- who is the project for?
- Who is our client?
- Who are the main people to know?
- Why are they having it?
- Have they done it before?
- What documentation and communication has been passed around
- Research the event and client online
- What kind of music or other content is being presented - research this as well
- What similar events have there been in this field? Again, research online
- Where do we fit in with the project, other suppliers and point of instruction?
- Why have you been invited?
- What do you want to get from the meeting?
- What questions do you have?
- An agenda - what is being discussed in the meeting? Typically an agenda should be emailed around in advance of the meeting (even if casual). You can also add your own agenda points. The purpose of an agenda is to let everyone know what is to be discussed, which helps everyone prepare relevant information or do research
- How far away is the meeting and what are your travel plans. You should be at the meeting site at least half an hour early
In the meeting - General Manners
- Turn your phone on silent and NEVER answer a call in meeting - it is hugely disrespectful and wastes everyones time if they have to wait for you, or explain things later
- Do not use you phone or tablet in the meeting as people might think you are not engaged
In the meeting - greeting people
In most meetings there is a casual greeting and sometimes a more formal set of introductions. When you greet people do the following:
- Be polite to everyone you meet from the person at the door to the chairman of the client company - you often don't know who each person is at first- Greet everyone with eye contact
- Give a firm handshake with a smile and eye contact to everyone
- Find out their name
- Make sure they know your name and involvement. For example, "I'm Johnny from SXS and am looking after the technical production"
- Ask "So what is your involvement?" - this is relevant and a reasonable question
- Don't judge people on first impressions - some people are nervous, shy, flustered, running late etc - it often takes months of working with someone to see their talents and values- Remember people's names if you can
- Whenever a woman enters the room make sure you stand up (this is very traditional but really does go a long way, especially with the older generation)
- Always make eye contact with anyone who enters or leave the room
In the meeting - introductions
In meetings with lots of people it is good practice for the person leading the meeting to do formal introductions around the table. Typically this will involve each person introducing themselves the group as a whole.
If other people at the table stand up to introduce themselves do the same. If they sit, you should also stay seated. Have a script prepared in your mind such as "Hi everyone, good to meet you all; I am Johnny from SXS and looking after the overall production. I will be working within a team of three of our department heads on this project."
It is also a good idea to pass around business cards as you do this.Write down the names of each person as they introduce themselves - ideally on a layout sketch of the meeting room table.
In the meeting - getting your points and ideas covered
Don't interrupt. If you have a point or question write it down and wait your turn. As the meeting progresses tick off each of your agenda points to make sure you are done.
If, at the end of the meeting, your points have not been covered it is OK to request that they are discussed.
After the meeting - sweep up
Throughout the meeting you should be compiling a todo list of items that you need to do after the meeting. When you get back to base you should write a followup email to the relevant people about what you are going to do and when.