Getting people to turn up to meetings on time can be intensely frustrating.
With a little preparation you can make a big difference to all your meetings.
My top tips are as follows:
1. Circulate a clear agenda
As covered in my article, 15 steps to a great agenda, a great meeting starts with a great agenda.
Participants need to know the start time, the end time and the meeting objective. You wouldn’t hand over your money without knowing how much and what it was for – why should you not expect people to do the same with their time.
2. Use electronic invitations to get the meeting in their calendar
Sending out an electronic invitation to the meeting helps ensure your meeting is in their diary. If they haven’t clicked “Accept”, chase them until they do.
3. Be known for finishing meetings on time
Reputation goes before a good meeting chair, and in no other area so much as timekeeping. Your colleagues will quickly get to know if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t finish on time and they will adapt by arriving later.
If you struggle in this area then try to at least show that you are trying to finish the meeting on time, even if it’s difficult to do.
4. Practice hospitality
Everyone likes to feel welcome, this is as true in a weekly meeting as in anything else.
Making sure drinks and food are already available in your meeting room both takes away one excuse for lateness (“I was just making myself a cup of tea…”) as well as making attendees feel valued and welcome.
5. Address persistent punctuality issues
If with all this, there still seems to be someone who turns up late, you need to address this. Make sure you speak to them one-to-one and outside of the meeting. You might want to see if there is an underlying reason that you can take into account (if they have to drop their kids at school each morning you might want to move the whole meeting 15 minutes later for example.) If not, you need to express how their lateness makes you feel and see how they respond.