You’re ready to start your meeting and look around the room. A key player is missing, and you face a crucial decision. Begin or wait? Meeting latecomers are not just frustrating, they represent loss to the company. According to a study by Bain, a meeting that starts just five minutes late costs a company eight percent of that meeting, a loss that would be unacceptable in any other aspect of the business. In fact, it is estimated that workers lose three hours a week — that’s five-and-half days per year — in delayed meetings.
A handful of calendar tricks can result in meetings that start on time — with full attendance.
- Set the meeting for an odd time. A 9:06 start time is unusual enough to cut through the meeting clutter. It lets the meeting stands out. While the novelty may wear off with repeated use, it’s still a valuable tool in your kit.
- Plan your time slot with attendance in mind. View the shared calendars of crucial invitees with a realistic eye. Back-to-back meetings are susceptible to time-push, so don’t set your meeting up for a late start. Sure, calendars will be in flux after your invite is sent, but not scheduling back-to-back for anyone gives you a better chance for success.
- Pay it forward: Don’t end on a half-hour. Default Outlook and Google calendar settings are in 30-minute increments. However, you can customize for any duration (easier in Google Calendar than Outlook). A scheduled ending at the 25- or 50-minute mark will not only earn you the gratitude of attendees (who doesn’t love a shorter meeting?), but will also enable your attendees to be on time to their next meeting. Google makes it super easy: Calendar settings include a “Speedy Meetings” option that defaults 30-minute meetings to 25 minutes and 60-minute to 50.
- Respect your own calendar. Perhaps the best hack is as simple as setting a good example. Plan to arrive five minutes early. And nowhere is this more important than on a phone or video meeting, since these sometimes require extra time to get past a tech glitch. When the meeting leader is ready to go time, it sends a message to attendees and establishes a precedent for future meetings.
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