Meetings in Switzerland come in all shapes and sizes, but the larger the meeting is the more formal it is likely to be.
Formal meetings will be very highly structured, following an agenda in a linear-active way. There is a little off-the-cuff deviation from the pre-determined approach. It is expected that people will arrive at the meeting well-prepared, with sufficient information to hand to allow them to debate any particular issue in detail. Punctuality is important and one should not be accused of stealing other people’s time. Without wanting to appear to be stereotyping, the need to be aware of time-related concerns is paramount in time-dominated Switzerland.
As Swiss companies tend towards specialisation and compartmentalisation in the allocation of roles, it is common for meetings to involve a wide variety of interested parties – each of which brings to the meeting, his or her specific knowledge. People are expected to speak in detail and at length about those issues which relate to their own particular area of specialisation but are not so much expected to interject in areas which less directly relate to them.
Although somewhat non-confrontational by nature, the Swiss still expect people to be prepared to debate and defend their own points of view in a robust and detailed manner. Such direct debate should not be confused with aggression or ill-feeling.