The effectiveness of a boardroom meeting is largely determined by the attitude and etiquette displayed by its participants. With this in mind, all the rules of great face-to-face communication still apply even if you are staging a video conference in your boardroom although there are some additional elements to take into consideration.
Boardroom skills are as important as the skills you bring to the table. From the moment you walk into the boardroom, it is imperative to be aware of all your mannerisms. We have taken into consideration the differences in some industries and cultures and the protocols of doing business. The rules below are the rules used across all cultures and industries generally to help people conduct themselves appropriately themselves in the boardroom.
It is important to establish rules of etiquette for meetings and each new membershould receive a list of meeting rules and guidelines. These would include such things as raising your hand when you want to speak, listening when others are speaking, not interrupting when others are speaking and so forth.
Here are some practical etiquette tips to keep you on the competitive edge.
1. Always arrive on time – you don’t want to waste anyone’s time by not being punctual.
2. Make introductions – if everyone doesn’t know one another in the meeting room, introductions should be done, starting with the person of higher rank first.
3. Exchange business cards before the meeting so you can use them to remember participants’ names, keeping YOU in control – always the goal. Place others’ cards subtly, yet strategically around your portfolio so you can address individuals by name, as you comment to questions, etc. Using names is powerful, especially if you have just met for the first time.
4. The host sits at the “head of the table.” The “head of the table” is entirely contingent upon where the door to the room is located. Remember: nearly everyone watches the entrance of the room. Know this, and use it to your advantage. If you, as a host, were to sit with your back to the door, whenever anyone entered, you would have to turn – away from your table (to view entrant), thereby losing ‘control’ and, awareness of your room and distracting other members.
5. The person of honor sits to the right of the host. The second most important person is seated to the host’s left. Co-presenters sit opposite the host so that together, they can control the meeting. They signal, gesture, make eye-contact and connect to control the meeting.
6. The host is always seated first. Ideally, participants will gather around the table, wait for host to arrive, shake hands, exchange business cards and greetings, and let the host be seated, first. Think: a courtroom and, the judge. The judge enters, all rise, the rest of the courtroom is seated.
7. Have a strong agenda – you should always be prepared with a good, strong agenda so that you stay on track. If par adventure you get off track, you should have a strong facilitator to keep you on track or get you back on track.
8. Hands: belong on the boardroom table, not on your lap. This is much more authoritative and, shows you are not “under handed” or, going to draw a sword or weapon!
9. Sit appropriately – make sure your chair is adjusted correctly so that you’re at equal height with everyone else on the table. Sit: focused forward; remember the British Invisible “V” between you and the back of the chair. Refrain from slumping, touching your face, hair, etc.
10.Eye contact: make eye-contact with those at the furthest end of the room; complete the thought. Wait an extra 2 to 3 seconds as you gaze at each, making them feel as though you are truly regarding them and, move on. Continue until you have made eye contact with everyone, thereby “owning” your room.
11.Stand when introducing yourself. It is considered common practice and respectful of the other mebers.
12.Identify yourself when speaking for the first time and always address other participants by name.
13.Speak up – speak loudly enough so that everyone hears you clearly. Speaking softly is a subtle nonverbal action that can affect your professionalism.
14.Sit attentively, don’t slouch or make excessive movements that could distract your viewers.
15.Be patient and clam – do not fidget, click your fingers, chew your pen or any such movements. It makes everyone around you feel uneasy. It is a form of body language that can put many people off.
16.Cell phones should be off or on silent. It is very offensive and impolite for your phone to ring whilst you are in a board meeting.
17.Do not interrupt – It seems obvious that only one person at a time should speak. However, those unskilled in board etiquette may interrupt or begin to speak out of turn. This is one of the biggest concerns of board members.