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17.12.2021 Organisation & processes

How you can find the best meeting time (every time!)

How you can find the best meeting time (every time!)

When gathering your team together for a meeting, you might be tempted to send an invitation for the earliest possible time and meet then. But, this can be a huge mistake. Certain days of the week and times of the day are much more effective when it comes to holding a meeting. 

Earlier meetings lose concentration and input, while later meetings risk your team rushing decisions to hurry home.

So, clearly different meetings are better suited to different times of the day. To help ensure you’ve got the engagement you need in your meetings, here are the best times to hold them.

It’s important to note, there are exceptions to these rules! But we will cover them later on, too.

Which day is best for a meeting?

A Monday morning meeting may seem to make sense. Your team will be back in the office and recharged after the weekend and you can align on the week’s plans and actions. However, this is not the case.

Having a meeting on Monday mornings will interrupt the burst of productivity that employees experience at that time. Since this is the time that employees catch up on emails and lay out the week’s tasks, the chances of them not attending the meeting is much higher. Only one in three people accept and attend a meeting on a Monday morning.

This doesn’t mean you should go the complete opposite way and save all your meetings for a Friday though. Productivity is incredibly low at this point. Scheduling a meeting on a Friday will mean that your team may rush through any decisions, and likely won’t be giving the meeting their full attention.

Therefore, keeping any big meetings scheduled in the middle of the week is in a team’s best interest. To be specific, a Tuesday afternoon meeting is perfect as this is the time most team members are free, as well as being a pretty productive time.

Different times for different purposes

Ideal time for decision-making meetings 

Decision-making meetings need to be set at the correct time to ensure that they are being fully and thoroughly thought out.

An example of this is seen in this study documented by PNAS, which follows judges’ decisions before and after their food breaks. When making a parole hearing decision, the percentage of ‘yes’ answers slowly drops from 65% to nearly zero over the course of each session. This percentage then returns abruptly to 65% after their break.

This is reinforced in a study done by the University of Dundee. The study found that participants are likely to choose quick gratification options if they’re hungry, even when the choices are unrelated to food.

So, if you’ve got a difficult decision for your team to make, it’s best to schedule this around 2:30 to 3 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This ensures that external factors aren’t clouding their judgement.

Ideal time for brainstorming meetings

Creativity is an essential thing to bring to these meetings, so holding them on Friday (the most creative day of the week next to Saturday!) will ensure that some top-tier ideas are brought to the table. While decision-making decisions shouldn’t be made on this day, brainstorming is a good idea!

The best time to brainstorm is earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, so no time between 11 am or 3 pm, according to esteemed sleep doctor Dr Micheal Breus. This seems contrary to common sense as your team will be sleepier, but Breus says that leaning into these “groggy” moments in which you’re easily distracted leads to creative and innovative ideas.

Therefore, Friday at 3 pm could be a great way to finish the week off on a creative high.

Ideal time for client meetings

Client meetings are best held earlier in the morning, on Tuesday or Thursday. This means that your client is less likely to be suffering from decision fatigue and will be able to put more consideration into your request.

This is especially important if your meeting is set up to pitch an idea or ask for resources from a client. But, if you’re looking to upsell or have an initial sales meeting with a new client then consider doing so on a Friday morning. Research by Pipedrive shows that conversions are high on this day with very little effort being made!

Ideal time for presentation discussions

If your presentation purpose is to teach your team something new and encourage a learning discussion after then certain times work better than others. Both between 10 am and 2 pm and between 4 pm and 10 pm the brain is in the acquisition stage, meaning it can more easily take in new information.

But since employees will be winding down ready to go home at 4 pm, aim for a midweek day meeting between 10 am and 2 pm instead (as long as your team isn’t hungry!). This will mean they’re excited and engaged to learn about the information you have to offer.

It’s also worth noting that simply presenting your presentation to the team will not be engaging for them. It’s much better to discuss materials that you’ve sent out ahead of the meeting.

Ideal time for stand-up meetings

A stand-up meeting is usually held first thing in the morning, to ensure a team has their priorities and plan sorted for the day. However, holding this too early can mean team members come into the meeting unprepared.

Aim to hold these at around 9 to 9:30 pm as this will give your team a chance to look over their emails and grab a morning coffee before preparing what they want to mention in the standup. Any earlier and the plan they form may not be the best thought out plan, meaning their time isn’t optimally used. However, do it any later and their day may lack essential structure.

This meeting should only be short and shouldn’t include any huge decisions. This ensures morning productivity isn’t greatly hindered.

Ideal time for employee announcements

Usually, these can be done as an email, and a meeting isn’t necessary. However, if you really need to gather the troops to make your announcement then ensure you do this at a time that won’t impact productivity too much.

Making an important announcement just before lunch will work well, as it means that everyone is in the office at the same time (and no one is left out). It also gives the team time to discuss the news in a social setting.

Exceptions to the rules

As with anything, there are a few exceptions to these rules. Teams with less conventional set-ups will struggle more than others to stick to these meeting timings. However, that doesn’t mean that meetings can’t be held when needed.

International meeting times

Teams that work remotely across different time zones, for example, will have to make some serious changes to this guide to ensure each employee can take part and participate in all decisions.

For these meetings, it’s important to plan them a week or so in advance so that each member can plan their day in accordance with these meetings. It’s useful to know that tools such as this World Clock Meeting Planner exist, too, so you can find the least disruptive times to hold a meeting with an international team.

Teams with flexible schedules

Flexi-time is an incredible employee benefit that works wonders for motivation and productivity, as it allows colleagues to work to their own circadian rhythm. However, it does complicate matters when it comes to holding a meeting with multiple team members.

This can be circumnavigated by, once again, planning the meeting in advance. Doing this will give time for your team to plan their hours and ensure no one has to work any unexpected overtime or risk overworking.

If frequent meetings are occurring, implementing core hours (e.g. all employees need to be present between 2 pm and 3 pm on Wednesdays) might be an option. This will allow you to hold meetings with peace of mind that your team can attend.

Improved meeting efficiency overall 

While it may feel as though these timing rules are a lot to take in and will waste time and effort to consider, in the long run, you’ll feel the benefit. Implementing these changes along with the others found in our guide to meetings will bring a boost of energy and productivity to your team and save you wasted time in the future.

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