Meetings in Hungarian companies are mainly used to communicate information. The actual work, on the other hand, takes place in informal conversations in small groups or in face-to-face conversations and then “made official” in the meeting. As a result, a lot of information is assumed to be already known in meetings.
Punctuality is part of Hungarian courtesy. However, your Hungarian business partners tend to be more committed to individuals than to their diaries. If someone is late, perhaps because the previous conversation took longer than expected, this is readily accepted. Therefore Hungarians do not associate unpunctuality with disrespect or low esteem.
Just because all meeting participants have arrived, it doesn’t mean that you have to start the meeting right away. Hungarians find it much more important to create a pleasant atmosphere through a lot of small talk than to start on time.
It is not common in Hungarian companies to draw up an agenda that is sent to all participants in advance and then rigorously worked through in the meeting. Hungarians often set up meetings spontaneously and at short notice, often to communicate new information quickly.
Hungarians also like to switch back and forth between several topics quickly and often. This rather unstructured, spontaneous and demand-oriented approach cannot be mapped in an agenda.
Many Hungarians have a certain aversion to formal meetings. They are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of others and therefore prefer not to express their opinion – or at least not directly – and don’t ask questions either. It is therefore advisable to hold meetings with Hungarian business partners in a relaxed atmosphere so that frank and open discussion is possible.
The topics of the meeting are frequently discussed further in the corridor afterwards. The time before and after the meeting is just as important as the time in the conference room.
Meetings are also often interrupted, sometimes because someone calls, or someone comes to the meeting room with a request. This will not be perceived as disruptive or even annoying by Hungarians; they will react flexibly.
In line with their style of communication, Hungarians take a circular approach to meetings; topics are not simply ticked off but taken up several times. What you may think has already been dealt with will often be re-examined and new aspects of the issue often emerge in the process. So be patient and listen carefully!
PowerPoint presentations are not too popular in Hungary. It is far better to speak as freely as possible and lighten up the formal framework with a touch of humour. Try to engage your listeners through your personality, interest in the topic and in your audience as well as by being authentic.
Hungarians are unlikely to ask questions or add any critical remarks at the end of your presentation. Instead, people will appreciate it if you make yourself available for informal conversations afterwards. If you want to ensure that questions are discussed in the plenum, you must explicitly ask your Hungarian audience to ask questions!