When is the best time for meetings?

March 24, 2020 5 min read

When is the best time for meetings?

You want to achieve the most productive and effective meetings. So when is the best time to schedule them?

Here are some tips to make the most bang for the buck.

 

It’s a tricky business

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. [1]

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 a person who coordinated the research, who said:[1]

“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 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. [2]

 

Andrew Jensen, an efficiency consultant, says on his website that meetings immediately after lunch may not be the most productive. Meeting participants may be sluggish. [3]

Let everyone have their post-lunch caffeine fix and energy levels would typically come back.

By 3 p.m., Jensen says, the post-lunch drowse may have worn off.

Jensen also advises against evening meetings for the staff for obvious reasons – they would have wanted to go home already. But he says late evening meetings are for senior managers because most employees have left and they are free to discuss sensitive business.

 

Avoid early morning meetings

Early meetings – say those breakfast ones – are not ideal since some may not necessarily be morning people. According to Andmeetings.com: [4]

Meetings held first thing means that employees have to prepare for it the previous day or come in extra early to get ready, which they may resent. The first thing in the morning is when most people are checking and responding to emails and enjoying a coffee, so they may get annoyed at being dragged away from their desks.

Jensen also cited a WhenIsGood.com study as he writes: [3]

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.

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.

 

When early mornings could work

But Thought Clusters says early morning meetings are good if you want to get the meeting over with quickly. [2]

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.

 

Mid-week meetings deemed best

Jensen says on his website that the best time for meetings is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. [3]

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, Lynn Taylor, author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” says it’s better to clear Monday mornings since employees are most productive around this time: [5]

“Because you’ve stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week.”

So managers are better off leaving their staff at their most productive times.

On Friday, they are likely to be rushing through the day in anticipation of two days off. Holidays on Mondays may also affect meeting availability.

Jensen 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.

 

How to conduct effective and productive meetings 

Andmeetings cites experts’ recommendations on how to make the most bang for the buck when it comes to holding effective and productive meetings: [4]

Experts say that meetings are best held in 45 minute chunks as after that people lose concentration. If meetings must be longer, break them up and give attendees the chance to get some fresh air or get a drink. It’s no good just ploughing through the agenda to get through it if no-one’s listening.

Here are a few more tips for scheduling your next productive boardroom huddle: 

 

Conclusion 

While there are no written rules for when to hold meetings, the time and day for when you set them depends on the objective you want to achieve. In summary:

  • For weekly update meetings, Monday mid-afternoon (everyone would have caught up with emails and pending tasks from last Friday. And they would’ve gone over those “Monday” blues.
  • Quick meetings are better off scheduled at 3 or 4 PM as people start “clock-watching” and are likely to steer clear from long, unnecessary chatters.
  • Lively discussions like brain-storming sessions are better conducted in the morning post-caffeine, when energy levels are high and thinking caps are still fresh.
  • Avoid meetings straight after lunch, if you don’t want sluggish participants.
  • Mid-week, midday meetings are ideal for any kind of meeting.
  • Steer clear from breakfast meetings or after-work team meetups for obvious reasons. But high-powered, senior management meetings are conducive after work-hours, as staff have likely gone home and sensitive topics can be discussed.

Sources 

[1] http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/06/best-time-for-meetings.html

[2] http://www.thoughtclusters.com/2007/09/what-time-should-you-have-meetings/

[3] http://www.andrewjensen.net/when-is-best-time-to-conduct-important-business/

[4] https://www.andmeetings.com/blog/post/whens-the-best-time-to-have-a-business-meeting

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/01/science-says-this-is-the-best-time-and-day-to-schedule-a-meeting-if-you-want-to-be-productive.html

Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin


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