Scheduling a meeting at the wrong time can make your meeting fail. Great managers schedule their meetings at the best time. Master meeting time etiquette and make your meetings effective.
What meeting time etiquette is
Meeting time etiquette is the set of rules to find the best time for scheduling a business meeting. Such rules include:
- The factors to consider.
- How to maximize the attendance at the meeting.
- The etiquette mistakes to avoid.
As an employee, you should follow meeting time etiquette to schedule your meetings at an appropriate time, look professional, and avoid any embarrassments.
As a manager or employer, promote meeting time etiquette in your team to ensure the efficient use of time and effective meeting culture in your company.
Meeting time etiquette rules
1) Do not invade personal time
Personal time is normally before 9 am and after 5 or 6 pm on weekdays. Saturdays and Sundays are off.
Personal time will never be the best option for a meeting. Avoid scheduling meetings in these hours or days. Doing so will qualify you as an abusive manager.
The only exceptions are if the meeting is urgent, or if there is no other time to meet. In such cases, it is good etiquette to apologize for scheduling at that time.
2) Mornings before 10 am: not the best time for a meeting
Before 10 am, hiccups can happen to you or your attendees. Getting stuck in traffic. Having to reply to urgent emails. Waking up late. Bringing kids somewhere. Any hiccup at home.
Your attendees may join the meeting in the wrong mood. They may be late, unprepared, or not join at all. Thus, it may be best to avoid scheduling a meeting before 10 am.
3) Evenings after 5 pm: not the best time for a meeting
After 5 pm, people may be tired. They usually have a limited attention span. They might have personal plans, such as picking up kids or returning home. Thus, it may be best to avoid scheduling a meeting after 5 pm.
4) Take the logistics into consideration
Before scheduling the meeting, check the schedule of your attendees. If possible, do not schedule a back-to-back meeting. Attendees may be tired from the previous meeting. If their previous meeting runs late, they might be late to your meeting too.
Thus, it is best to allow your attendees 30 minutes of break time between meetings. When it is not possible, try to book a meeting room that is convenient for everyone.
5) Mind the sugar levels and digestion time
Immediately before or after lunch is not the best time for a business meeting. Before lunch, the sugar levels are low. People have limited attention. After lunch, digestion kicks in. Blood flows from the brain to the stomach. You need brains in your meeting.
6) Consider the time zones
Meetings across different time zones are a challenge. Try your best to schedule your meeting at a time that is convenient for everyone. If it is not possible, try to limit the inconvenience. Pick a time that is inconvenient for you rather than for the other attendees.
Usually, coworkers are understanding. However, it is polite to apologize for the time in the invitation.
7) Best days of the week for a meeting
Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are not the best time for a meeting.
On Monday mornings, people might be traveling back from the weekend. Furthermore, Monday mornings are often inbox time, when people review last week’s emails. Monday afternoons are better.
On Friday afternoons, people are rushing toward the weekend. They are often trying to finish their weekly tasks. Furthermore, they are likely tired after a week of work. Thus, they will have a limited attention span.
8) Back from vacation days
The first day after vacation is always busy. There is a full inbox to clean. High levels of stress. It is best to avoid inviting attendees on their first day back at work.
Recap: the best times for a meeting
These 3 options are the best ones. Try to schedule your meetings in these slots.
- Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays: between 10 am and 12.30 pm. Or between 2.30 pm and 5 pm.
- Fridays between 10 am and 12.30 pm.
- Mondays between 2.30 pm and 5 pm.
Meeting time rules: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst meeting time etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Invading personal time.
- 8/10. Not considering other people’s needs.
- 6/10. Forgetting about the logistics.
- Time zones tool: timeanddate.com
What is the best time for a meeting?
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Between 10 am and 12.30 pm, or between 2.30 pm and 5 pm. These options are usually the most convenient for everyone.
Are Monday meetings good?
Monday meetings are not optimal. However, Monday afternoons are not a bad time to meet. Avoid Monday mornings, as everyone is usually busy.
How do you find meeting times across time zones?
Use time zone tools to check the working hours of all attendees.
What is the best hour for an evening meeting?
The earlier, the better. Past 6 pm is usually personal time.
What is the best time to ask for a meeting?
At least a couple of days before, but not over 2 weeks in advance.
How far in advance should you schedule a meeting?
It depends on the attendees and their schedules. Avoid scheduling meetings over 2 weeks in advance. If you do, send attendees a meeting reminder a couple of days before.