A lot has been written about business meeting dos and don’ts. All of us who work in the corporate world understand the importance of putting our phones away, and on the silent mode, before stepping into a meeting room. Everyone instinctively knows that it is bad manners to interrupt someone while they speak, and of course, nothing really needs to be said about the value of punctuality.
Meeting rooms work as collaboration hubs for co-workers. And as with any shared space, there are some dos and don’ts that need to be adhered to. These are unspoken rules, but keeping them in mind can make a tremendous impact on the functioning of a company. It also ensures that shared spaces are used efficiently, and are used by all.
Here are a few mantras to meeting room etiquettes:
#1 Check before you slip into a meeting room
Sometimes all you need are a few minutes for a quick team discussion. You might think it’s alright to call a meeting and step into a room that is unoccupied.
However, what if someone else has a booking and is surprised to find you there already, when you have, in fact, not even reserved that space? It can be a bit awkward for both sides, with you asking for ‘just a few minutes’ while the other group just around doing nothing. Or you have to break up your meeting and go look for some other place to complete the discussion. Either way, the flow and momentum are lost.
Take a few minutes to check if the room you wish to occupy is booked, and if it not, then book it, even if it is for 10 minutes. This is respectful of everyone’s time, including yours.
Some offices also have small collaborative spaces within their premises which need not be booked. These can be a few chairs or bean bags, or even standing meeting areas. These can be utilized for quick discussions on the fly.
#2 Make sure there is no double booking
No one does this deliberately, of course.
In your bid to get a room at the earliest, what you might have done is booked all rooms to see which one gets free faster. And the moment one is, you get your meeting started. The only problem is that you forgot to unbook the others. Which means, they are now booked against your name and no one is using them, while others are scrambling to find a space for their discussions.
The best way to avoid this is to do a quick check before starting your meeting to ensure you cancel any double booking.
#3 Be quick to book (and cancel) rooms
In most offices meeting rooms are in great demand. As soon as you realize that you might need to call for a meeting, book a room. The longer you delay, the tougher it might get to find a slot that suits your needs. And believe us, it is embarrassing to ask co-workers to accommodate you just because you have not been proactive. Imagine if your client is standing with you while you go door to door, looking for a free meeting room. Not a pleasant image, right?
On the flipside, if your meeting gets cancelled, unbook the room right away. This opens it up to other people who might be looking to reserve a room.
#4 Don’t linger
Anticipate how long you will need the room for and book it accordingly. However, as is wont to happen, some discussions can go on for longer. Whether you have covered all the points that were to be discussed or not, leave the room once your allotted time slot is over. You are simply using up someone else’s booking and taking up their meeting time.
#5 Leave behind a clean meeting room
When you leave the meeting room, leave it neat and tidy.
If you came in with a coffee cup, take that with you when you leave or throw it in the bin. If printouts were being passed around the table, take them all with you. If it was a lunch meeting, make sure all traces of food are removed.
Clean the whiteboard, remove all post-its, close all computer applications, put the chairs back neatly, and lastly switch off the lights and air-conditioning.
In a nutshell, leave the room the way you found it, or better.
#6 Close that door
A discussion between a few people need not involve the entire office, right? And the best way to keep it that way is to shut the door while the meeting is in session. Similarly, if you need to enter a meeting room, knock on the door before walking in. This is irrespective of whether you are meant to be a part of the meeting or whether you just wish to have a quick word with someone present in the room. A closed door means you need to ask for permission before you enter.
#7 Be willing to adjust
If your meeting consists of just 2-3 people, and you are in a room meant for a larger group, be willing to change rooms if required. Sometimes other emergencies may crop up and a coworker might ask you to shift or use your room in the middle of your meeting. Be understanding and help your colleagues whenever possible. Someday you might need a room in an emergency, right?
None of these tips are tough to follow. In fact, if all of us climbed aboard the same wagon, everyone will get an equal opportunity to use shared spaces efficiently. Do you have any meeting room etiquettes that you would like to tell us about? Write to us in the comments below.