How NOT to Show Up Late to a Meeting

Sometimes you can't avoid being late to a meeting, no matter how hard you try. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips for minimizing the damage done by interrupting a meeting already in progress.

Richie Frieman
2-minute read

How NOT to Show Up Late to a Meeting

Let me first say it's highly unmannerly to show up late to a meeting. Ever.

But sometimes you can't avoid it. Still, when you do show up late, you have remember that the person across from you is already thinking about where you were and what was so much more important than your appointment.  It’s very possible that a stickler for punctuality will end a meeting before it starts if you show up late—the rationale being that if you can't show up on time, you aren't serious about working together.

But sometimes things happen that make showing up on time impossible: can't catch a cab, flat tire, stuck in traffic, etc. So if you find yourself in this scenario, here are 3 ways to minimize the damage: 

Tip #1: Never show up late with a fresh cup of coffee.

I am a coffee addict, and drink coffee throughout the day. However, if I'm late for a meeting, I never bring coffee in with me. Why? Well, if you are late, but you bring a fresh cup with you, that means you knew you were late but let your beverage needs have priority over your commitment. If you are running late, you should never look like you stopped off on the way to get a refreshment.

See also: How to Wrap Up a Business Meal

Tip #2: Don't overdo the excuses.

I get it, you're very sorry for being late. And I know, it was the "craziest thing" that happened. I'm sure. But when you show up late, apologize sincerely and then drop it. Don't drag on and keep bringing it up. You are already late, you said why, but now you are running out of time, so don't waste any more with an over-explanation of your dramatic story.

See also: Meeting Cancellation Etiquette

Tip #3: Don't lie.

When we’re running late, we often fish for a better excuse than simply saying, "I lost track of time, sorry." There’s no need to over-dramatize the reasons for your lateness – “It was 10-car pileup and I had to deliver a baby en route!” People can tell when you’re lying. So just keep calm, state the truth, and carry on.

Meeting photo from Shutterstock