Like many of you, I’ve participated in hundreds of business meetings over the years. During that time, I’ve seen managers motivate, presidents persuade, and executives… do something good, too, that starts with the letter “e”. But things don’t always go well. Sometimes, a meeting implodes and all that’s left in the aftermath (is there a beforemath?) is a mushroom cloud of bruised egos, unfulfilled agendas, and undetermined next steps. However, if this is your idea of corporate sport, here are a few suggestions to make your next business gathering one to remember.
Make it Standing Room Only
Invite 10 people to meeting in which there are on 8 seats at the table. Let the jostling for position begin. This is a great way to establish or reinforce a pecking order right from the start. And rather than some unspoken, subtle understanding of who’s more important than who, this is a clear way to demonstrate to everyone in attendance who is at the bottom of the totem pole – those forced to wheel in the creaky chairs from the cubicle.
In an effort to empower a team member, designate a person to draft the agenda and run the meeting. Then, the first chance you get, exert your authority and take over. After all, why rely and anyone else when you can do everything better?
Regardless of the time of the meeting, be sure to bring food. Not for everyone, of course, just for you. If you can, an entire meal is preferred. The crunchier the better. Your constant munching, the food’s wafting aroma and your need for additional space at the already cramped table will serve to reinforce your superiority over everyone else. You’re too busy to eat before or after the meeting, so it’s only fair that you interrupt the flow of the meeting with your need for sustenance.
Send and Receive
Imagine how many important emails come in during the course of a meeting. You really can’t be expected to wait until you’ve discussed the last agenda item before you check to see if your Amazon purchase has shipped, can you? You could quietly check your email on your phone under the table, but it’s much more efficient to go through your inbox on your laptop. By now the table is really crowded with the mess from your food, so be sure to push that into someone else’s space before you open up your computer. Finally, turn the volume up all the way so everyone clearly hears the “message sent” sound effect. It’s probably wise to keep your email browsing activity limited to reading and sending messages. Clicking on links to YouTube videos would simply be bad form.
I’ve witnessed each of these behaviors many times over. Not to mention yawning, bill paying, scrapbooking and more. And while it may not make for a productive gathering, bad meeting etiquette can do wonders for uniting the troops in a common cause – specifically, your demise. I’m just sayin’…