FORMAL AND INFORMAL MEETINGS – 5 Dos and Don’ts
A meeting is a gathering of people together for a specific purpose. We regularly attend meetings with little or no idea of the type of meeting. As we climb up, it is important to become familiar with the intended mode and nature of every meeting we attend.
There are two types of meetings: formal and informal meetings. Every meeting you attend will fall into any of these categories. We’ll take a look at both categories one after another.
These types of meetings are what we commonly refer to as official meetings. Board meetings, association meetings, and many decision-making meetings are of the formal type.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FORMAL MEETINGS
- FORMAL LANGUAGE: Whenever you are attending a formal meeting, be careful not to use informal language. The participants in a formal meeting are usually addressed by their titles being attached to their names and not just their names.
Formal meetings require you to speak formally when contributing or addressing an issue.
- AGENDA: Both formal and informal meetings may have agendas to follow to help guide the meeting.
The difference is; while the agenda may be manoeuvred in informal meetings, it is strictly adhered to in formal meetings.
This is why you must prepare very before attending a formal meeting.
Try to itemize the points you will make before attending so you don’t skip any.
Some things that may reflect in the agenda for formal meetings may include
- Opening prayer (Based on the organization hosting the meeting)
- Opening speech/remarks (The chairman of the meeting usually gives this)
- Courtesies and apologies
- Reading and adoption of minutes of the previous meeting (we’ll discuss this under our next point)
- Matters arising
- Auxiliary matters (commonly referred to as AOB – Any other business)
- Closing remarks
- Adjournment of meeting
In formal meetings, there usually is someone to take note of the things discussed at the meeting. The minutes contain even the very small matters and points that were raised in the course of the meeting.
This is usually done for record and reference purposes.
This documentation is read in the organisation’s next meeting by the person who wrote it and adopted by someone or people present at it.
Adoption of minutes implies that it can be used as a working document, and no corrections are to be made afterwards.
Before the adoption, however, amendments can be made.
DO’S AND DON’T’S OF FORMAL MEETINGS
- Make sure you are dressed formally or in the agreed dress code for the meeting
- Make sure you are seated before the time slated for the meeting (the time of commencement of the meeting is usually taken note of in the minutes)
- Address everyone with respect
- Some meetings may be recorded. Keep a good and neutral look during the meeting.
- Formal meetings usually take a very long time. Prepare before you attend. In case there are no breaks.
- Avoid using informal language. Even if you know the person you are addressing on a personal basis. Call their names with a title like Mr James, Dr Paul etc.
- Do not crack jokes. When discussing serious matters, it is unfair to crack a joke, especially unrelated ones.
- Don’t leave the meeting before adjournment unless under permission.
- Do not skip a meeting without sending an apology. This apology is documented in the minutes.
- Don’t use your phone or electronic gadgets unless you are allowed to do so.
Your phone should be silent during formal meetings to avoid disrupting the meeting.
Many of the meetings we attend daily are informal or semi-formal meetings.
Informal meetings hold mainly to pass information or get together.
They have very similar features.
FEATURES OF AN INFORMAL MEETING
- The length of the meeting is usually very short.
- Informal language may be used.
- Although an agenda may be used, it may not be followed strictly. In semi-formal meetings, some items on the agenda can be skipped or even replaced.
CHARACTERS TO PUT UP AT AN INFORMAL MEETING
- Though it may be overlooked, look good and decent.
- Do not overuse informal languages and slang. Be moderate..
- Try to inform someone when you are leaving. It is basic courtesy to do so
- Do not try to formalize an informal meeting. Leave it to flow.
While there are no strict rules to how meetings are organized and how participants should behave, it is important we learn and adapt these practices in our day to day meetings and gatherings.