When is the best time for meetings?

by Mark Miller April 28, 2016

When is the best time for meetings?

When I got the assignment to do this blog, When is the best time for meetings?I thought, “Um, never?”

But seriously, people have put serious thought into the best time to schedule business or work meetings. Google has 14.3 million search results for the question.

9 a.m.? Fuhgeddaboutit

Schedule your meeting for 9 a.m., says Inc.com, and people will have to prepare for it the day before. Or they may end up not preparing at all. And if you schedule the meeting for 9 a.m. Monday, which is traditional at many companies, one study found only 1 in 3 employees will attend.

Inc says a study by WhenIsGood.com found that the best time for a meeting is 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. Inc spoke to person who coordinated the research, who said:

“People seem to think they can’t leave it much later than 3 p.m. because time might run out. They start clock watching. The most important factor, though, is probably preparation time – if you have a meeting at 9 a.m., employees will need to prepare the day before, or turn up underprepared.”

The Cooper Review has a funny infographic on 10 ways to look smarter at a meeting. (The Cooper Review)

Mid-week meetings deemed best

Andrew Jensen, an efficiency consultant, says on his website that the best time for meetings is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

When is the best day of the week to conduct an office meeting? Well, Monday and Friday are typically the least effective days to hold an important meeting. Many employees use their personal or vacation days to have an extended three-day weekend. Therefore, you may find that essential employees are not there every Monday or Friday. Also, employees are typically still in “weekend mode” on Mondays. On Friday, they are likely to be rushing through the day in anticipation for two days off. Holidays on Mondays may also affect meeting availability.

Jensen too cited the WhenIsGood.com study (the more I researched this blog posting the more I am concluding that most of the 14.3 million articles on Google about scheduling meetings cited the WhenIsGood study). He writes:

Early morning meetings should be avoided as you will find a number of employees are still sleepy. Also, meetings at the start of the day mean that the employee must prepare for it the previous day or arrive early. In late afternoon meetings, employees may simply watch the clock and think about the end of the day. If your meeting’s goal is to create enthusiasm about a particular product or service, chances are the enthusiasm will wear off as the employee heads directly home.

Jensen says if managers schedule a meeting directly after a meal their employees may be sluggish. (Viter Life just published a blog on why people get drowsy after meals and how to avoid it.)  By 3 p.m., Jensen says, the post-lunch drowse may have worn off.

The Thought Clusters blog has a post from 2007 (before the WhenIsGood study) that analyzes different times of the and why they may be good or bad for meetings.

When is the best time for meetings?

Thought Clusters says early morning meeting are good if you want to get the meeting over with quickly. Also, people have plenty of energy in the morning, which may prompt more participation. The downside is that people may start work later in the day. Also people may be dealing with e-mail and other types of correspondence early in the morning.

Late morning meetings allow people time to finish important work and also get presentations for the meeting itself ready. A meeting just before lunch may keep it short.

The Thought Clusters writer says most people are amenable to a meeting after lunch and will listen better. An afternoon meeting may last longer because there is nothing to keep it from going on. So perhaps an afternoon meeting toward the end of the day, say 3 p.m., would keep the meeting from lasting too long because people want to go home at quitting time.

He advises against evening meetings, and says late evening meetings are for senior managers because most employees have left and they are free to discuss sensitive business.

What day is the best day for a meeting?

Thought Clusters has a separate posting on what days of the week are best for meetings. He concludes that Mondays and Wednesdays are good. On Monday you can look to the week ahead. On Wednesday you can assess what you’ve accomplished so far that week and see what remains to be done.

He says Tuesdays are good for external meetings with customers because most companies don’t hold their meetings on that day. (This was before the WhenIsGood study came out.)

And he concludes:

Fridays are bad for any meetings because people are less likely to follow up on any action items. On Friday, everyone is mentally shutting down in anticipation of the weekend (enjoyment or chores). While they may fully agree with you, their brain shuts down in the evening and your needs are forgotten. When Monday comes around, there are new issues to handle and you are nowhere in their thoughts.

‘Great new thoughts’

People kid about hating meetings on social media. The blog Meeting Boy has a funny post from 2015:

There is an entire industry on the Web about articles telling how to conduct a good meeting. Many people would agree short is good, but that is a topic for another day.

Happy meetings, and here’s hoping you don’t get Jerryed.

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

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