Especially in serious/silent situations. If you are the source of the deed, is it better to ignore it, or just say sorry afterwards?

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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit (and others): if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. That is something which people should learn at young ages, yet as a moderator I find myself making this sort of comment often and deleting those types of comments frequently (?). Making comments mocking a person asking questions is unacceptable, period. Please read through this meta post and the Be Nice policy of Stack Exchange if you have any questions.
    – enderland
    Aug 24 '15 at 14:21
  • Note that if you're presenting, there are things you can do earlier in the day to reduce this hazard.
    – keshlam
    Aug 25 '15 at 23:00

Short answer: Unless someone looks at you, ignore it. It always sounds a thousand times louder to you :)

However, if it is noticed, just smile, apologise with a reason (for example):

Oops, sorry! I haven't had lunch yet!


Sorry, I ate my lunch a bit quickly to make this meeting!

While grumbly stomaches or hiccups are pretty common in meetings (I'm terrible at this :) ), unless there is a medical reason (eg irritable bowel syndrome) there would normally be no time you'll be flatulating or belching in a meeting. If there is, simply apologise, state the medical reason and leave it at that :)

Note: If the unthinkable happens and you accidentally flatulate in a serious situation such as a meeting (or interview!), do not try to cover it with moving your chair! I saw a guy do this once in a meeting. You could see the poor guy trying to sink through the floor. I felt for him, he was so embarrassed. Nobody mentioned it to save him his dignity :)

  • 39
    Or even just a simple "Excuse me" and move on would do in most situations.
    – David K
    Aug 24 '15 at 12:08
  • 24
    @JaneS I like your comment about just ignoring it unless it is obviously noticed. However, I agree with DavidK, just a short and sweet "Excuse me" would be better in most situations. It's highly doubtful the CEO cares why you burped.
    – Kevin
    Aug 24 '15 at 12:38
  • 2
    @DavidK If it happens once, then "excuse me" would probably be fine. If there is a second time then it would probably warrant an explanation.
    – Jane S
    Aug 24 '15 at 20:48
  • 5
    @Kevin I've had many meetings with CEOs, managing directors and boards. One thing I have learned over the years is that they are actually human :) A brief explanation done with a smile can defuse the moment and you move on.
    – Jane S
    Aug 24 '15 at 21:13
  • 1
    Yes to "do not cover this up"! Reminds me of the (very old bash.org?) TIFU: person had to fart in class, had the brilliant idea to drop his books at the same time to cover the sound. So he dropped his books, everyone turned to look at him, and then he farted.
    – Konerak
    Sep 26 '16 at 11:37

Clear your throat, say "Excuse me.", then carry on with what you were doing.

If you're not presenting, then just keep your composure and be polite. If you are presenting, then if what you're presenting is worth listening to, then they'll keep listening to it.

You're only human. Just be discreet: anything more is asking for attention, and there's no need.


In some situations it might not be enough to say sorry.

If there's a window in the room, open it to allow for some fresh air to come in.

If you had accidentally dropped a mug, you wouldn't just say sorry either but rather try to clean up the mess as good as you can. It's a slipping hazard after all.

If that burrito death cloud slipped though your lines of defence, that's bad enough, but don't let it wreak havoc on your colleagues.

If you can feel it "coming":

I'd say it's better to let it out instead of waiting for it to find a different way out. Leave the room if possible, of course.

People become very uncomfortable when they cannot pee, poop, eat, etc. even though they really have to. This reduces the ability to concentrate on the meeting and thus compromises the quality of work.

I'd rather have somebody float above their chair than their mind being occupied with not doing it.


The polite thing to do is say, "Excuse me." and then carry on with the meeting.

However, it is more polite to avoid these things where possible. If this is something you feel coming on, suggest a rest room break. If the meeting is important, eat something before hand so that your stomach isn't growling. If this is more than a very rare event, you might want to seek medical treatment.

  • 1
    Whats with this suggesting medical treatment for farting and burping?? It's not an illness people! Aug 24 '15 at 22:20
  • How is farting or burping a medical condition? Aug 25 '15 at 5:49
  • 7
    @StijndeWitt flatulence and eructence in themselves are not a medical condition if they happen only rarely. However, if you frequently have to fart or burp and you can't stop them, this might be indicative of certain problems in your body. For example, excessive flatulence can be a symptom of several intestinal illnesses like Crohn's disease, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, gastroenteritis,... If a bodily function happens more often than normal, that could indicate that something is wrong in your body.
    – Nzall
    Aug 25 '15 at 8:33

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