Guest Etiquette: How to Ensure a Warm Welcome

When it comes to meetings and networking events, some rules of etiquette stand the test of time. It’s important to have a name tag. But there are some other things that might be rude, like using a cell phone or being on your laptop for a meeting.

How to Be a Good Guest (or be Uninvited): Rules of Etiquette
How to Be a Good Guest (or be Uninvited): Rules of Etiquette

Here’s how to guide your visitors toward good conduct.

Be Clear About the Start Time and the End Time

A meeting should have a start and an end. If you’re using a conference room, make sure that your guests know when they can set up their laptops or drop off food for lunch.

A lot of times, people will bring in catering early but won’t leave it outside the door until later on because someone is still working in the office. This leaves the guests feeling like they’re in the way.

Make Sure There’s a Clear Agenda

If you are expecting people for a meeting, make sure that everyone knows what to expect. Send out an agenda before or even during the meeting so that any announcements or sudden changes catch no one-off guard.

Encourage People to Introduce Themselves

If there are new faces in the room, it’s always nice for people to introduce themselves. It helps everyone feel more comfortable, and you might even learn something about your guest that can help with future meetings or collaborative projects.

Advise Your Guests on the Dress Code

If you’re having people over for dinner at your house, it’s always nice to let them know if they should wear casual or business attire. This is especially important if the event includes children.

Keep All Personal Items off of Table Tops and Out of Sight

This means cell phones, food wrappers, water bottles, etc. Try not to make your guests feel like they’re in a college dorm.

Respect the Space of Others and Leave It Better than You Found it

This rule includes all kinds of spaces, including offices or hotel rooms. If you find something out of order when entering an office space—like someone’s lunch left on their desk, for example—try to fix it or at least put it back where you found it.

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Hold Guests Accountable for an R.S.V.P.

If you’re expecting guests, make sure to remind them of your event’s R.S.V.P. policy and the consequences for not following through. This will help avoid any hurt feelings or embarrassing situations down the road.

Don’t Bring Children Unless They Are Accommodated.

Unless your child is welcome and there are activities planned for them, it is probably best to leave them at home. If you do bring a child and no one has planned activities for him or her, try not to let your guest feel like babysitting is part of their job description.

Bring Gifts Only if Appropriate

If the host hasn’t stated in advance that they would prefer gifts from guests, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and not bring anything at all. If you’re still unsure, a nice bottle of wine or some flowers are always safe bets.

Don’t Stay Too Long After the Event is Over.

Leaving right after the meeting or event has ended sends the message that you have better things to do and places to be and makes your guests feel like they’re in the way. Try ending a few minutes early so that you can all leave together.

Allow Personal Devices into Meetings Only If Necessary

If someone is expecting an important call or an emergency, it’s understandable to allow for limited use of personal devices in meetings. But if people are just checking their email every two minutes, it can be really distracting and annoying for everyone else in the room.

Make Sure Everyone Can Hear and See What’s Going on

This goes for both audio and visual. If someone can’t see or hear what’s going on, it makes the meeting difficult to follow and frustrates everyone involved.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

Your guests are watching you just as closely as you’re watching them. Make sure that your body language is open and welcoming because the messages you send through your body can be as important as anything that comes out of your mouth.

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Be a Good Listener and Never Talk Too Much

This is one of those rules where less really is more. Try to resist the urge to talk about yourself too much, especially if someone else in the room has something interesting or relevant to say.

Take Notes If Necessary

If you’re not the best at remembering names or important points, taking notes can be really helpful. It also shows that you’re engaged and interested in what’s being said.

Thank Your Hosts for Their Hospitality

This is always a nice way to end an event, whether it was at your house or someone else’s. Thanking your hosts for their hospitality not only shows that you appreciate their efforts but it also makes them more likely to invite you back!

Don’t Allow Outside Food into Meeting Rooms.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there have been plenty of times when people have brought in food and disrupted the meeting. If you need to eat, try to do so before or after the meeting instead.

Encourage Guests to Eat Before an Event

If you know that there’s going to be a lot of food at an event, it can be tempting not to eat beforehand so that you have room. However, this can lead guests to over-indulge and ruin the meeting or event experience for everyone involved.

Take the Lead on Ordering Alcohol (or Not)

If you’re hosting an event at a bar or restaurant, it’s usually best to order the first round of drinks yourself. This helps avoid situations where someone tries to order too expensive of a drink for themselves, and everyone else has to split their tab as well.

Encourage Mingling

One of the best ways to get to know someone is to talk to them. Encourage your guests to mingle with one another and make sure that everyone feels welcome and included.

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Offer Name Tags

It can sometimes be difficult to remember everyone’s name at an event, so feel free to provide name tags for people. It will help them get acquainted with one another and ensure that no one is left out of the conversation.

Don’t Wear Scents That Are Too Strong.

If you’re hosting an event at your house or even in a public place, make sure that you’re not wearing any scents that are too strong. It can be really overwhelming and bothersome for people who have allergies or asthma.

Make Sure the Room is Warm Enough

If it’s a winter event, make sure that the room is warm enough so that your guests don’t feel uncomfortable. And if it’s a summer event, make sure that there’s air conditioning or fans available to keep people cool.

Respect the Host’s Property

Make sure that you’re respectful of your host’s property and don’t damage anything while you’re there. This includes not taking things without asking first and being careful with how you use electricity and other resources.

Don’t Bring Uninvited Guests.

If you’re not sure if someone is invited to an event, it’s always best to ask before you bring them. This prevents any awkward situations and makes sure that everyone is on the same page.

Send a Thank-You Note After the Event

This is a polite way to show your appreciation for everyone who attended the event. It’s a nice touch that can go a long way with people, and it also demonstrates how thoughtful you are in general.

Don’t Leave Right After Eating.

If there’s food at an event, make sure not to leave immediately after eating by yourself or with a small group of friends. This causes the event to lose its momentum and can make it seem like you didn’t enjoy yourself.


Do you have any other rules of etiquette to add? Let us know in the comments section below!

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