Five Top Tips for Scheduling Online Meetings
Something regularly asked by business owners is when the best time to schedule meetings is. The day and time a meeting is held does dramatically affect how it turns out. It is much easier to schedule meetings with people across the world thanks to Blue Jeans and other online conferencing software, but the question still remains. This quick guide should give you some idea of when to schedule your meetings so that you can get the most out of them.
- Local or International?
The first factor to consider when scheduling your meetings is who will be attending. If it is a local meeting or the only attendees are people in your same country or time zone then it won’t be too difficult. If, however, you need to talk with people in different time zones, sometimes multiple time zones, then it can create a problem. Compromises may have to be made, but the important thing is to ensure that nobody will be attending the meeting in the middle of the night. Depending on the different time zones you need to reach, accept that some of you may need to start your day earlier or stay a little later to make this possible. If you are pitching to an important overseas client then work the meeting around a time which is best for them. If some people don’t need to attend the meeting immediately, record it using online conferencing software then e-mail it for them to watch when it is convenient for them.
- Time of Day
This is probably the main problem that people argue over. What time of day is best to hold a meeting? There is no easy answer as different people work better at different times of the day. You also don’t want to take people away from their work too much during their peak production hours. Many people agree that the best time is mid-morning. People will have had their morning coffee and caught up on their important tasks but their blood sugar levels won’t have dropped too low and they won’t be too sluggish immediately after eating a big meal. Other sources including Lifehacker argue that 3pm is the best time as people are more likely to respond to invites at this time. Lunch meetings should definitely be avoided for online meetings as the sound of people eating through headsets is incredibly off-putting and against all online conferencing etiquette. Again, don’t forget to record the meeting and e-mail it out to anybody in a different time zone who either couldn’t make the meeting or wasn’t at their most alert during the meeting.
- Day of the Week
Along with the time of day, this is another key consideration. Many businesses schedule regular Monday and Friday meetings, but business expert Andrew Jensen argues against this. These are the days when employees often take holidays, and Mondays are often when public holidays are held. People will also be less productive on Monday and too eager to go home on Friday. Therefore, the middle of the week, particularly Tuesday, is the best time to hold important meetings. This doesn’t mean that you should never have meetings on Monday or Friday; just don’t expect them to be your most productive meetings.
- Preparation Time
Both you and your colleagues will need some time to prepare for a meeting, which again affects when you should schedule them. If you announce the meeting at the end of the day for the next morning, that doesn’t give anyone enough time to prepare effectively. If you announce a Monday morning meeting on Friday afternoon, that means your colleague’s weekend plans are gone down the drain. Unless it is completely unavoidable, schedule each meeting with enough time for everybody to prepare within work hours, without impacting on their regular work load. This is another good reason to schedule meetings for mid-morning or the middle of the week, as it gives people ample time to go over their notes and make any adjustments beforehand.
- Meeting Length
Another important thing to consider when making up your schedule is how long you expect the meeting to last. It is advisable to keep meetings as brief as possible as people still need to get on with their regular work and other commitments. This may mean starting a lengthy meeting earlier in the day. If the meeting is going to go on for a long time be sure to schedule regular breaks and put the most important items at the top of the agenda.
While there is no definite right or wrong time to hold a meeting and different time zones make it a little more complicated, using the above guide when putting together your meeting schedule should make it easier. Not everything works for everyone, but you can still schedule meetings that will be productive, well prepared, and even enjoyable for everybody who attends.