Let’s assume that all the following statements are true.
- Most meetings start on the hour.
- Most meetings run about an hour.
- Busy people, particularly managers, spend a lot of time in meetings.
- The busiest managers schedule back-to-back meetings.
What might you conclude based on these four facts about meetings? Here’s one safe answer. A good number of people will arrive late for a meeting.
We often believe that latecomers are disrespectful and don’t make the effort to be on time. Tt’s quite possible neither are true. Instead they are caught in a logistical trap. They have no travel time to get from one room to another.
Also they don’t have the time to take care of what they consider important needs that must be met (Bathroom, coffee, email).
While the logistical challenges are greater for in-person meetings, they are present for virtual meetings as well.
Don’t start on the hour
If the meeting leader waits for them to arrive, and many do, the people who were on time are now resentful because they think the leader is wasting their time. It’s a common problem. It’s also an easy one to fix. Don’t start meetings on the hour.
People running from one meeting to another reasonably require at least 10 minutes. And whether the meeting leader allows for that time or not, they will take it.
Since one can’t control when the previous meeting ends, you should assume it will likely end near the top of an hour due to the first two statements written above.
This means most of the travel time people need will be taken from the meeting they are going to rather than the one that just ended.
You can’t control when other people’s meetings end, but you can control the start time for your meeting.
Quarter after the hour works quite nicely. People have the time they need to take a little break between meetings. Not only are they more likely to be on time, they will be less stressed and hopefully more focused.
Get their attention
If you really want to throw people for a loop, start at an unexpected time. This would be any time other than on the hour, half-hour, or even quarter-hour.
Can you imagine being invited to a meeting that starts at 10:42? Some will think it’s a typo and will likely confirm the time with you prior to showing up.
Most will make sure they arrive on time and maybe even early. Why? Simply because of the oddness of the time. They’ll assume it must be significant.
Getting people to show up on time might be as simple as making it easier for them to arrive on time. Not starting on the hour is one simple way of doing just that.