You didn’t get a calendar alert; you got one while you were distracted by something else; you planned to put together a presentation last night and instead fell asleep on the couch. The truth is, you’re the only one who cares about your excuse for being unprepared for a meeting.
What you need to focus on now is how to handle the situation so that you don’t make a fool of yourself, your boss, or your department. Without panicking.
According to Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of Don’t Burp in the Boardroom, as soon as you realise you’re unprepared, you should tell your boss.
“Own it,” Randall said. “Take responsibility for it.” If you’re lucky, they will have some of the information you were supposed to gather.
“They will appreciate that, even though they will probably be mad at you,” Randall added. “It takes guts and courage to own up to a mistake, no matter what it is. And that’s a good trait.”
In the case that you don’t talk to your boss beforehand — or if you somehow don’t realise you’re unprepared until the middle of the meeting — simply say, “I’m sorry. I don’t have that information with me today.”
Of course, in either scenario, your boss may talk to you after the meeting about why exactly you were unprepared — so be ready for that conversation.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider Australia