8 Unwritten Meeting Rules You Need to Know


Campus to Career is excited to announce our very first contributing writer, Sarah Landrum! You’ll see Sarah’s exclusive thought-provoking posts each month right here. Please help us welcome her to the Campus to Career community! This month, she has some excellent tips to help make your meetings more effective…

coffee cups meetingThe unspoken rules in a professional business setting are the ones you don’t likely learn while in school. You’re either going to figure them out by trial and error, or learn from those who already know what they’re doing. Some young professionals embarrass themselves as they discover proper office etiquette. Since no one likes being embarrassed, here’s a list 8 unwritten meeting rules you need to know:

Planning a Meeting

1.  Never call a meeting unless absolutely necessary. Operate under the basic presumption that everyone hates meetings. Workers tend to grumble to themselves that they would rather be working than sitting in a meeting if it’s not necessary. Before you call the team in, ask yourself: Can I settle this with an email?

2.  Set a hard time limit. If you decide a meeting is necessary, assure everyone that it will be worthwhile. Before the meeting, let everyone know how long it will take. Remind them of this fact at the beginning of the meeting. And be sure to end things on time.

3. Create a schedule of events that can be accomplished within that time limit. At the very least, aim to accomplish one goal on your schedule before the time is up, or else everyone will feel you’ve wasted their time.

4. Do not invite nonessential personnel to your meeting. If people are invited, they will feel obligated to talk. If more people are invited, more people will talk. If more people talk, the meeting will last longer. Do not invite anyone unless their presence and input is essential.

Your Conduct in a Meeting

5. Engage attendees. It’s important to factor in a few minutes for chit-chat to build rapport and get everyone engaged. It’s always nice to begin a subject – especially a dull subject – with something funny to get everyone’s attention. But remember: talking about things that aren’t on the agenda will waste everyone’s time. Stay focused.

6. Keep your phone in your pocket. Looking at your phone sends a strong signal that you don’t care about what’s going on. Resist the temptation to check your phone. Even if you’re checking it for work-related purposes, doing so sends a vibe that you’re not paying attention or don’t care about what’s being discussed.

7. Take notes. Unlike taking your phone out during a meeting, taking effective notes shows everyone that you’re fully engaged with the present proceedings. In fact, you’re so interested that you want to make what’s being said semi-permanent. Plus, if you don’t have much to say it makes you look busy, which is better than looking dumbfounded or bored.

8. Don’t be afraid to get everyone back on topic. Keep your eye on the meeting’s goals and actively work to direct the conversation toward those goals. The meeting will go faster and you’ll position yourself as a good leader.

Transitioning your life from a senior on campus to the newbie at the office doesn’t have to be frightening. Realize that success involves more than what you learned in the classroom. Take the knowledge you gained in school and combine it with the unwritten rules you learn along the way – and before you know it, you’ll be the one giving the next newbie a lesson on meeting rules.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a recent Penn State graduate, writer, and founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and career development, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum


2 thoughts on “8 Unwritten Meeting Rules You Need to Know

  1. Good post. Have to disagree with # 4 though. Meetings are a good place to show that you really support the principles of diversity and inclusion. Just set the topics and set the times for them. Good meeting management will ensure time is not wasted.


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