I was attending a meeting recently and watched almost half the attendees walk in 5 to 10 minutes late. I thought it was pretty rude. But more disappointing was the response from the meeting chair as the stragglers entered the room. The chair started the meeting only when the majority of the attendees had checked in and continuously recapped the discussion for the late comers. No one felt it necessary to apologize for wasting anyone’s time.
The amount of money and resources that we waste in corporate North America on poorly executed meetings is astounding. Meetings are the greatest waste of our time day in and day out.
There are many things we can do to fix lousy meetings but for me, one of the most important ones is to start them on time. This sounds pretty simple, but think about your meetings and when the last time was that you started on the nose at the exact time as advertised.
The real reason that this goes on is that you set the example right at the beginning of the first meeting. Yes, it is your fault that everyone arrives late.
You see, if you had started your first project meeting on time, by the minute, you wouldn’t be in this predicament. Regardless of the number of people in the room you should have started when you said you would. Then as the stragglers came in the room, which they assume is allowable behavior, your job is to keep going. Ignore them and, in fact, demand quiet as they start to wonder why the meeting has already started. Do not go back and cover items already covered. Suggest all the latecomers can review the minutes afterwards. Keep on moving and stick to your agenda.
You need to set an example right off the bat. Take control right at the front end and I promise you will have control, at least of the timing, of every meeting in the future. Everyone will arrive on time.
That’s how you start your first project meeting. On time.
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