Business Etiquette for Requesting a Meeting
Business meetings are an unavoidable fact of corporate life. The Annenberg School of Communications at UCLA and the University of Minnesota Training and Development Research Center found that business executives spend up to half their working hours in meetings. You must use proper business etiquette when requesting a meeting to help these executives and other co-workers make the best use of their limited time.
Prepare for the meeting before sending out a request to potential attendees. Create a detailed agenda that spells out the goal and items that will be covered, including any action items. List anything else that will be required of the attendees. This will help you narrow down your request list to the proper invitees rather than inviting too many people.
State a firm time frame for the meeting and give your commitment that it will start and end at time when you make your request. This will encourage invitees with busy schedules to agree to come. They will be able to schedule another event right after the meeting and be confident they will be able to get there. Letting meetings start late and run way over time is bad etiquette and shows disrespect for the people you requested to attend.
Send out your meeting requests to the potential attendees. Use the format preferred by your company. For example, if you have standard calendar or scheduling software, use it to send out invitations. Ask the recipients to respond whether or not they will be able to attend and include a "please respond by" date. That will let you know your invitation was received and read.
Follow up with a phone call if any of the invitees does not respond by the specified date. Keep the call simple. Ask if the person received your meeting request and explain that you did not get a reply. Confirm whether or not he will be attending. Normally someone who does not respond is not planning to go to the meeting, but this should be clarified in case he simply forgot to respond.
Notify confirmed attendees as soon as possible if you must cancel the meeting for any reason or change the day, time or location. Emergencies do come up and priorities and arrangements do change, but it is bad etiquette to call off a meeting at the last minute or make a change that affects the attendees. Others will be more likely to turn down your future meeting requests if you don't respect their time by telling them about changes or cancellations promptly.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alexander Kaiser