Starting a meeting in Finland always begins by making an appointment. The best way to do this in Finland is by e-mail. When you know somebody, making an appointment for a meeting is more casual, for example: setting up a meeting by text message. It is important to set the meeting up several weeks in advance. Just showing up in the hope you can speak to someone is not the right way to do it in Finland. Also bear in mind that meetings are not as a brainstorm session, but for the purpose of making decisions.
In Finland meetings are usually quite brief and right to the point. Being on time is very important. Also, remember to wear proper business attire, meetings in Finland are fairly formal. Finns tend to be better listeners than speakers. Silence during a meeting is quite normal, it’s seen as a part of communication. There is no need to get nervous when there is a short pause between conversations. In Finnish companies the hierarchy is rather flat, meaning that everybody will be treated equally. However, when a senior is attending the meeting, the Finnish team will defer to him or her.
Finns are known for being shy, giving presentations is rather uncomfortable for them. When they do give a presentation, it’s full of hard facts and the presentation is high-tech. When giving a presentation for your Finnish counterpart try not to fill up the entire presentation by talking. After the meeting just mingle into a conversation instead of asking questions (CDA Media, 2012).
After a meeting the Finns tend to go to a sauna. Business meetings progress from formal to informal. Going to a sauna is considered a way to relax and forget about work. Because of this informal atmosphere it’s considered the best time to start using first names with your Finnish counterparts. After the sauna, the conversation usually continues with a drink or with a light meal.