Top 5 reasons your meetings start late

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If your business is anything like ours, then you know probably search for efficiencies wherever you can. Over the years, we've seen one area often (and surprisingly) overlooked. But it's that one aspect of operations, that almost every business struggles with—the plague of how meetings start late.

It may seem insignificant, but let's consider these numbers about meetings:

  • Office workers spend an average of 4 hours per week in meetings
  • They consider 50% of meeting time to be a complete waste
  • "Too many meetings" is considered the #1 time-waster at the office

If you're reading this, then none of the above findings will be very surprising. The bottom line is that there are A LOT of meetings being held in the corporate world.

Time is precious so meetings should start on time

According to research in our Front Desk Experience Survey in 2018, there are 11 million face-to-face business meetings happen across the US every year. And in the UK, business meetings are valued at £193 billion.


But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "unnecessary meetings" cost US businesses approximately $37 billion each year. And starting them late will, over time, result in an astounding amount of time being used inefficiently.

In fact, most companies have no clear understanding of how their leaders and employees are spending their collective time. Not surprisingly, that time is often squandered...—Your Scarcest Resource, Harvard Business Review

So what's behind this epidemic of meetings starting late? And how can we fight back?

Let's start listing the ways...

1. You start meetings late, period

The old adage of, "it's not you, it's me" works here. As a meeting host, you should be the one setting a good example! The best first step is not getting a reputation for starting meetings late.

If people dutifully show up punctually only to have the meeting host waltz in 10 minutes late, then the “monkey see, monkey do” syndrome will set in. And no one will take meeting start times seriously. 

Likewise, if the meeting leader is always punctual but delays the start of the meeting to account for the usual laggards, then that too will send the wrong message. Don't make late meetings the norm. Leave the stragglers behind. It will be tough at first, but there has to be some degree of tough love to change behaviors.

2. You haven't done enough prep work

Meetings need to be organized in advance.

We're not just talking about the agendas and researching meeting material but also something as simple as providing everything your meeting attendees need ahead of time. This can some by way of invitation emails. But crafting each one manually can be a tedious task.

What's great is if you have a visitor management system in place that can help you automate each invitation email to your visitors and meeting attendees.

proxyclick invitation email with a qr code at the bottom

Follow the old basic advice to journalists: “Who, what, when, where, why, and how.”

The meeting invitation should do “advance work” in providing vital info:

  • Meeting materials,
  • Legal docs for electronic signature,
  • Travel directions to your facility,
  • Unique access codes or QR codes for entry,
  • Your contact info and direct line, and more

Tip: When trying to break bad habits (see item number one above) don’t be shy about reiterating the fact that meetings will—really—start at the agreed upon time. If need be, we're not against judiciously throw in some ALL CAPS here and there.

3. There are always long lines at reception

If your visitors arrive with plenty of time to spare only to get held up at your front desk because of an inefficient sign-in system, then it does them—and you—more harm than good.

Of the 2,000 business professionals we surveyed across the US and the UK, a whopping 60% of them blamed long lines at reception for their meetings starting late.


Download full survey results here


More specifically, Joseph Allen, at the University of Nebraska Omaha, surveyed professionals across a variety of industries in the US: sales, retail, media, construction, IT, etc., about the last business meeting they'd had.

He and and his team published their findings in "Let's get this meeting started: Meeting lateness and actual meeting outcomes." In summary, their research showed that 40–50% of the meetings start late.

Something like Proxyclick’s cloud-based visitor management system can help you streamline your front desk operations and boost the visitor experience. Many of your current processes can be automated so that your reception staff can get back to providing the special human touch.

Your corporate lobby, after all, is an extension of your company's brand and culture.

4. You don’t use the clock strategically

Nowhere is it written that meetings have to start on the hour or half-hour. Nor is it anywhere stipulate that they have to end that way either.

Setting odd or unusual start times can actually help people focus and not just let things slide due to habit. And unless you went to Hogwarts, then you know it's not possible to end one meeting at the same time you're to magically appear at the next. 

Likewise, make sure someone is on clock management (preferably not the person running the meeting). Delegate to this person the duty to cut in periodically and announce the amount of scheduled time left for the session.

This will help maintain focus on the task at hand.

5. Technical difficulties

Nothing matches the joy of sitting in a (dark) room watching someone silhouetted by their desktop screen muttering under their breath about how "PowerPoint was working fine yesterday."

If you’ve brought tech to the meeting and it’s not working, then step away from the tech. And if need be, then wing it with old-fashioned talk.

Better yet, if you’re bringing tech to the meeting, then get there early. Not five minutes early, but early enough to make sure things are up and running before the meeting’s scheduled start time.

No one wants to watch you wrestle with your gadgets.

In conclusion

Those were just a few ideas on how to prevent your meetings from starting late. We get it. Delays happen sometimes. But we've seen time and time again that late meetings lead to less productive meetings.

At Proxyclick, we're in the business of people meetings where the visitor experience matters. You can start a free trial and see right away the benefits of implementing a digital solution on your path to meeting greatness!

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