5 Tips to Mind Your Manners During Business Meals


Dining out with business prospects or colleagues isn’t just an ordinary meal. It’s a chance to impress a potential new client or reward your team in a setting that allows you to converse openly. Leave your fellow diners impressed after your next business lunch or dinner with these five tips.

  • Plan ahead

    Write down any agenda items in advance and bring your materials. Before heading into the restaurant, switch your cell phone to silent, unless you are expecting an emergency call. (If that’s the case, alert your guests prior to the potential distraction as a courtesy.)

  • Be conscious of time

    If you’re the host, avoid scheduling events immediately after work (in case your guests need to go home and change) and skip dessert or coffee if diners seem anxious to leave.

  • Think before you order

    You want to focus on your audience, not your food. Skip finger foods (fried chicken or BBQ ribs), messy dishes (spaghetti or oysters) and overly expensive items. Pay attention to what others are ordering—you don’t want to be the only one ordering an appetizer or a second cocktail.

  • Keep the conversation flowing

    This is your chance to really get to know your colleagues or a potential clients, so keep the focus on them by asking questions. For some, this comes naturally. If that’s not you,come prepared with half a dozen questions to ask fellow diners. Reading a local paper can help inspire conversation topics. Another go to conversation starter is to ask others about their vacation ideas or hobbies. Stay clear of potentially controversial topics such as politics and religion.

  • Handle the bill gracefully

    The host should always pay for the meal. Never let the bill linger on the table. You can also pay the bill away from the table before it arrives.

Looking to polish your skills and your team’s professional presence during business meals. We have a professional etiquette seminar that’s just the thing to get you prepped.