The dos and don’ts of eating in meetings

From croissants to fruit, food in meetings is becoming more common and plentiful – but it can be the downfall of those not in the know when it comes to meeting eating etiquette

You’re in a 2-hour meeting and faced with either an embarrassing tummy rumble or attempting to eat a sandwich without getting crumbs down your shirt.

Two People Shaking Hands Over a Desk with a Croissant on it

To help you avoid these pitfalls, here’s our modern guide to eating during meetings:

Do: Enjoy the free food
If a client or your employer has laid on a spread, it’d be rude not to have a nibble. Food can be a great ice-breaker when there are a number of people in the room that haven’t met each other.

Don’t: Focus on the food
But don’t let it take over the meeting. If you’ve initiated some gentle chit-chat about the quality of the pain au chocolate, don’t spend 10 minutes telling them about how this one café in Paris served the best ones ever. Get the conversation back to business.

Do: Take a single item
While your host might be generous, don’t push it. You may well be hungry, but one item is enough for now. If there’s still food left once everyone has indulged, it might be ok to go back for seconds.

Don’t: Bring your own food
This isn’t a picnic. Bringing in a smelly, greasy burger or prawn sandwich might seem like a good idea but it’ll just be off-putting to everyone else and a snub to your host.

Business People Eating at a Restaurant

Do: Eat at the start
There’ll be at least 10 to 15 minutes of general chit-chat at the start. This is when you should be doing most of your eating. While it’s ok to continue to nibble throughout the meeting, your focus should be on the speaker, not your plate.

Don’t: Chew loudly through a talk
If you do insist on eating while people are talking, do it quietly. There’s nothing more annoying or off-putting than a noisy chewer. Avoid apples and crisps, go for bananas.

Do: Clean up after
Pastries are a nightmare of crumbs and flakes that tend to go everywhere. Don’t leave it for someone else to clean up – do it yourself. Grab a napkin and give your space a quick wipe down.

Don’t: Make a mess
In fact, try not to make a mess at all. It’s not hard – we’re all adults. Keep your plate under your chin to catch crumbs, and finish your crusts. No one wants to see a pile of half eaten sandwiches sat on a plate during the meeting. If this happens, ditch them in the bin at the first opportunity.


Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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