Whether you are meeting with your team to discuss day-to-day business matters or with prospective clients to dazzle them with your ideas, it pays to be prepared when it comes to office meetings. Part of this preparation is knowing your audience, and for that, it will depend on your industry and your niche. Another major component of being prepared, especially in an international context, is knowing the cultural business norms of the country you are in.
With more and more meetings happening in flexible office spaces and meeting rooms across Australia, more and more business teams should be aware of the nuances and norms of Australian business etiquette. You certainly do not want to commit a faux pas if you are trying to emerge as a reputable player in your field. Avoid any embarrassment or offence by informing yourself ahead of time.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the essential points of etiquette for business meetings in Australia.
While the international stereotype of Australians suggests that they have a highly casual culture, when it comes to business meetings this is not necessarily the case. As with most other business environments, men and women both commonly wear dark coloured business suits. Naturally, this depends highly on the culture of the company that you are working with, some businesses do allow more casual clothing such as shorts. However, it is better to be on the safe side if there is any uncertainty.
Showing up to a meeting in overly casual attire can give the impression that you do not take the meeting seriously. However, because Australians are relatively polite, they will likely not publicly comment on a shabby appearance or bad manners unless either is particularly bad. Therefore, do not take this as a sign that bad behaviour is acceptable.
To be polite and to give the impression that you are dependable, make sure to arrive for the meeting a few minutes early. Being late is a serious error that gives the impression that you are wasting your coworkers’ or clients’ time. As with many other business cultures, a firm handshake is a common greeting when first getting down to business. Make eye contact with people when greeting them, as well as throughout the meeting, to project confidence in yourself and what you are saying.
Do your best to keep the meeting short and to the point. Being direct is valued in Australian business culture and failing to quickly demonstrate what you are offering or what the purpose of the meeting is will make you seem unprepared. If your meeting is taking place over a lunch hour, however, things are a little more casual. Getting right down to business in these situations can give the impression that you are overly aggressive or in a rush. Make small talk and be prepared to talk about topics that are not directly related to your business in any way, such as the weather and sports. There are some topics to avoid with new colleagues, however, including religion, sex, and politics.
Appreciate The Australian Work Ethic
While it can take some time for newcomers to Australia’s bustling business centres to acclimate to the etiquette, you will certainly come to appreciate the nuances of the Australian work ethic. Give your meeting the best chance of productively pushing your business forward by taking some time to study up on the customs and behaviours. One final word of caution, be primed for the more colourful language often used casually by many Australian businessmen and women. It can sometimes be a bit of a shock to those not expecting it.