If you are in charge of a meeting you probably want the meeting to be productive and a positive experience for those in attendance. One of the most important things you can do to create the right atmosphere for this type of meeting is to begin the meeting on time. When a meeting begins late you are, in effect, penalizing those who showed up on time and telling them that their time is not valuable to you.
This is the wrong impression to give if you want a successful meeting. Here are some suggestions that can help you get your meeting started on time:
- Rather than starting a meeting on the hour or half hour, schedule it at an unusual time. Instead of 9:00 try 9:10 or 7:23 instead of 7:30. Experience has shown that people tend to be more punctual for meetings when they are scheduled at times other than on the hour or on the half hour. By scheduling the meeting at an odd time draws attention to the exact minute it is to start. It makes everyone more conscious of the start time including you. If you do this you, of course, must start on time.
- Every group tends to have an extrovert that won’t mind being appointed the “sergeant-at-arms”. He can be stationed at the entrance in order to collect a dollar fine from every one that comes in late at future meetings. Don’t allow any excuses, everyone pays the fine. Everyone. When the “Sergeant-at-arms” is appointed have the group vote on how the money that is collected will be used. It can go towards charity or some other use. The fine along with the kidding late-comers will tend to get will have a dramatic affect on punctuality.
- Having a full and well planned agenda will tend to help. When planning a meeting it is better to have too much scheduled rather than too little. If you are afraid that you don’t have enough material to take up the allotted time you may have a tendency to stall and start the meeting late, then take your time getting into the actual material. This is a terrible way to begin a meeting. It’s hard to have a great meeting when you begin poorly. Rather than under programming your meeting it is better to be a bit over programmed with some items that can be left out if you are running short of time.
- Some meeting planners make excuses for themselves starting late like “people want to visit before the meeting” or “people always show up late”, etc. This is no reason to start your meeting late. The reason that people tend to show up late for meetings is because previous meetings have started late and this figure this one will too. The main reason people visit before the meeting is because they have nothing else to do. If you want people to visit and network at your meeting then make it a planned part of the meeting.
- Create of checklist of everything that needs to be accomplished before the meeting and make sure everything is completed well before the start of the meeting. Don’t plan on doing unrelated tasks prior to the meeting, such as having a conversation with one of the attendees, etc. Take care of these things at another time so that your full attention can be placed on the meeting and will be able to take care of any last minute surprises.
- If you have regular meetings that people are showing up late for, get in the habit of placing an alarm clock on the speakers stand that is set to go off at the start time of the meeting. Watch the time carefully and make sure it goes off on time and let it ring for a few seconds to get peoples attention and to get them settled down. Then immediately shut the alarm off and begin the meeting. You will find that once you start doing this that people will expect is ant will complain if you discontinue using it.
By Daniel Rray