The etiquette of a meeting counts. Think of it as a performance with no faux pas. Follow these rules when leading your next meeting:
Read the group. Don’t volunteer opinions too soon. You don’t want to choke off free-flowing ideas or intimidate dissenters. If you want to disagree, do so gently: “Let’s not overlook …”
Send supportive cues. If you’re nervous or agitated, you may pace like a hungry lion. Sit down and communicate with the group at eye level. Maintain a pleasant expression, even when you’re annoyed or upset. Don’t fold your arms, frown or strike a stern pose—unless the circumstance is indeed grave.
Maintain light, but firm, control. If a speaker has trouble getting to the point, you can help him by summarizing or paraphrasing his remarks. If someone interrupts too quickly, say, “You’ll have a chance to talk later.” It is your job as leader to maintain the pace and keep conversations focused without stifling important information.
Don’t speak for absentees. Tread carefully when you are summarizing how someone who’s not there thinks or feels. If you misrepresent that person, you can get into a heap of trouble.