In North America, is it culturally accepted that everyone knows who else is going to be at a meeting, or should one not be surprised if some people they did not think were going to be there arrive? I'm not talking about special circumstances (e.g. "I was in the office today and noticed there was this meeting I should go to") and not talking about meetings so large it's impossible to say who will be there. For example, if you schedule a meeting with one other person and it turns out there is a third person at the meeting, is that "unprofessional" (for lack of a better word)? Let me know if the question doesn't make sense.

EDIT: I was talking about internal. I had a problem working with some people so one person asked me to come to have a meeting with them. When I arrived another person was there that I did not expect to be there. But from the comments, it depends what type of meeting whether or not it's customary to tell people who will be there?

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    It happens all the time with internal meetings and is completely normal. Are you talking about that or meetings with clients/vendors? Nov 1, 2013 at 4:08
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    Hi Arnakester, you should consider elaborating why this is important to you, as it will give this the context of a real problem. What happened?
    – jmort253
    Nov 1, 2013 at 4:19
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    Well there are different conventions for business meetings with a formal agenda and minuets etc and grievance or discipline meetings which is what this sounds like If your called in to a meeting to discuss problems with a third party I would not be surprised if the manager had some one from HR. Nov 1, 2013 at 12:46
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    How do you organize meetings? If you're using Outlook, all invited parties can see the names of other invited parties, if they look at the even tracking page. You could send separate invites to everyone to get around this, but it's probably not worth the trouble. Nov 1, 2013 at 16:23
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    The meeting you describe does not sound like a typical meeting. Nov 3, 2013 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


To what extent is it common practice to inform others of who is going to be at a meeting?

In virtually every meeting that is formally scheduled, I expect to know who will be there and what will be the topic of discussion.

When the meeting is planned well, I also expect to see an agenda.

That said, I also attend a lot of informal meetings ("Hey, can you join us for a discussion about the Framis project?"), where none of the above happens.

You seem to be implying some ulterior motive for the meeting you attended where you were surprised by the list of attendees. Perhaps, but when I've seen that sort of thing happen, it has just been an oversight, or someone unexpected decided to join in at the last minute. If it concerned you, you could have said "Oh, Mr. X - I thought it would just be the two of us discussing this situation.", than then waited for their response.


Actually it depends on the type or motive of the meetings.

There can be two types of meeting:

  1. FORMAL : Like a project kickoff, project closure, performance evaluation, Status reporting. In these kind of meetings its sort of compulsory to share the details of whoever is attending
  2. INFORMAL: Like casual update meetings, problem solving meetings, review meetings, in those meetings its not necessary that everyone will be informed about the attendees except the high level management.

In your case since you had a people issue, your manager called the other person too. In these meetings its very common that you will have some surprises. The first time I had such a meeting I was shocked myself, but then I got use to it. But if bothers you, then you can request your manager or whoever called the meeting to inform you before who is attending or may be ask for a one to one meeting that will convey a clear meaning.

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