Opinion: Start and finish meetings on time – don't wait for stragglers

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It's bad enough today that 90% of all online meetings seem to start with endless "can you all hear me?", "can you see this?", "I can hear you but I can't see it", "John's trying to connect but can't", etc. etc.

But the one that annoys me most is:

Let's give it a few more minutes for stragglers to connect in

Why exactly?

This often happened with in-person meetings too but it seems even more prevalent now with online meetings. In both cases, it's inappropriate.

What this actually says is "I know you all connected in at the time we said the meeting would start, but I don't care enough about your time to keep to the agreed schedule. I'm more concerned about the people who didn't connect at the right time."

I used to coach youth baseball teams, softball teams, and soccer teams. I felt the same way with those. Most parents made sure their kids were there on time. A few didn't. But why should I waste the time of those that did, for those that didn't?

People who are late will understand that they're late and they might have missed something. But guess what? They'll also be more inclined to get there on time next time. (Or at least most will).

A similar issue happens when meetings drag on without a conclusion at the agreed time.

Don't do this either

If you didn't schedule enough time, learn to schedule more. If you didn't manage the meeting properly, learn to manage it better next time. But respect the time and other commitments of attendees.

Also, try whenever you can to avoid the meeting in the first place, if there's a better way to resolve whatever needs to be discussed.

Finally, if your meetings are endlessly starting late because of connection issues, fix them too.


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