How many meetings have you been to where attendees have arrived late or the start of the meeting is delayed whilst we wait for someone. There will always be exceptions, someone is late because they got caught in unexpected traffic etc, but a lot more meetings would start on time if the following steps were taken.
1. Make the meeting start time part of the agenda.
Always highlight the arrival time on the agenda. For example, if you want your meeting to start at 10:00 am, highlight 09:45 as the arrival time on the agenda and ensure you start at 10:00 prompt.
An arrival time is useful because it allows everyone time to socialise, grab a coffee, and organise materials before the meeting. It also allows for delays to attendees and gives a good chance that all attendees are present at the published start time.
2. Offer refreshments
Provide tea, coffee, juice, or food before the meeting. This will be especially welcomed by attendees from other locations who are attending all-day meetings. Once again It provides a time for attendees to catch up and it may also provide a welcome meal for those who have travelled.
But here’s the catch: offer the food only during the arrival time. It then gets cleared away once the meeting is under way. Another point to remember is that serving brain foods such as fruit, instead of Danish pastries make people more productive.
3. Be a role model
If you are chairing a meeting you must always arrive before the arrival time, this will allow you time to check the room is set up properly. You will also be able to meet and greet the attendees as they arrive. This demonstrates that you are in control of the meeting from the outset.
4. Make it easy
Think of other people when you schedule your meetings. Most people have a tendency to start meetings on the hour and finish them on the hour.
Be different to everyone else and start your meetings at odd times, maybe 09:10 arrival time for the meeting to start at 09:25. This allows attendees who have been in meetings that started at 08:00 and finished at 09:00 the time to get to your meeting. Similarly, end your meetings ten minutes before the hour so that attendees have time to get to their next meeting.
5. Be realistic
Realise that some people are beyond coaching and because of their attitude or relationship with you, they will always be late, and likewise there will always be emergencies, surprises, and those few who flatly refuse to cooperate with you. Start without them and if they are continually late consider not inviting them in the first place.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner