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Tips for Starting Business Meetings on Time October 2, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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Filipinos are notorious for coming late, especially to meetings.  Luckily, this is changing.  But if you’re part of an organization that still has outstanding latecomers in its fold, then you might find this post helpful.  Here are some of the things I have learned when starting business meetings in a department full of latecomers:

Always schedule a meeting room and have it reserved.
If a meeting has to be held some place, it has to be a room that will allow you to discuss the agenda in relative peace and quiet.  In most offices, you’ll probably be able to use a conference room, a meeting room or even a spare room. 

Before you write a memo or send an e-mail, make sure to get this room booked.  When the day and time of the meeting comes, you’ll have all the right to access it and use it for your purpose.

Schedule the meeting at odd times.
I don’t mean midnight or just when storm signal no. 3 is raised.  Instead of saying that the meeting will start at 9:00 a.m., make it 9:10 or 9:15 a.m.  It’s easier to remember and since people are used to having meetings start at 9:00, there’s a good chance that they could make it on time.

Schedule the most important stuff at the start of the meeting.
If you indicate on your memo that you will be discussing the topics that will be of interest to most of the attendees early on, they will be encouraged to come on time.  If you like, you could even break down an hour-long meeting into several periods. 

9:15 – 9:20- Reading of previous meeting minutes
9:20 – 9:35- Discuss new employee benefits
9:35 – 9:50- Question and answer regarding new employee benefits
9:50 – 10:00- Nomination of committee officers and members for Company event
10:00 – 10:15- Wrap-up and reading of minutes(Further questions will be entertained at this time)

Encourage people to come early.
If necessary, be like a good shepherd and lead your flock to the meeting place.  Call a few on the intercom to inform them, ‘Meeting in 5 minutes.  Please tell the others.’  If you have some sort of instant messaging in your local network, use that to send a short but friendly reminder.  Or you could stand up and say in a loud but cheerful voice, ‘Meeting starts in 2 minutes, people.  Let’s go!’

Start on time.
Yes, start on time.  Once you have at least a fourth of the total number of attendees or just two or three, start the meeting.  That way, you will reinforce your rule.  You did ask them to come on time in your memo, right?  Then they should have. 

If you wait for the rest to come, you will encourage them to come later in your next business meetings.  Don’t encourage this behavior.  Just because it’s learned doesn’t mean it has to be reinforced.  Show your attendees that you mean it when you say something.

Close the door.
Why?  So people who come in late are easy to spot.  Next time around, they’d be too embarrassed to come late because they’ll be getting too much attention.  And yes, sometimes, pausing as someone enters the room will help drive your point across.

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