Why Starting a Meeting at 12:00 is a Terrible Idea

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Right now, there’s a lot of talk about the ‘death of the business meeting’. The problem, of course, is that we’ve reached a point where meetings are being called to discuss anything and everything, leaving many feeling like they’re wasting their time. But some meetings are necessary, and they can be massively successful… as long as your participants are truly in it.

There’s lots of ways to boost productivity in meetings, from ordering refreshments to making sure you’ve got all the right tools you need to fully engage your participants, but perhaps one of the best (and easiest) ways is to strategically schedule the meeting for the right time of day.

How about 12:00? Maybe not. Starting a meeting at 12:00 is a terrible idea, and here’s why:

Reason 1: Hungry Bellies Reign Supreme

At 12:00, not only will participants likely be distracted thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch, but they’re also more likely to want to rush the meeting so that they can get out, eat, and do whatever it is they had planned for their lunch break. And with the average UK meeting lasting for one hour, according to The State of Meetings Report 2019, 11:00 is an equally bad time, especially if it’s possible it will run over. After lunch is often just as bad, with the post-lunch slump ready to begin.

Reason 2: It’s on the Hour

We’ve all heard of ‘psychological pricing’; the act of pricing products at, for example, £1.99 to trick the brain into associating the cost more with £1 than with £2. Something similar happens with timings. 11:59 on the clock is often registered by the brain as being closer to 11:00 than 12:00, which means that on-the-hour meetings often result in more than their fair share of latecomers. Meeting at 15 or 45 minutes past give the brain time to acknowledge the hour, and ensure everyone’s ready and prepared.

Reason 3: The Lunchtime Energy Slump

Although 3pm is notorious for being the peak of the daily slump, energy levels do actually start to diminish long before this. Of course, they’re certainly not helped by the insulin peaks and troughs in the post-lunch window, but even at midday, many of us are starting to feel tired and distracted. Typically, we’re more focused and productive in the mornings, and we know this According to meeting scheduler Doodle, only 22% of people want an afternoon meeting. The majority want to meet between 8 and 12.

When is the Best Time to Start a Meeting?

While it’s not an exact science, 10:15 is considered to be an excellent time to start a meeting. You’ve allowed participants to settle into the working day (and you’ve accounted for those that missed the alarm!), you’ve given the brain 15 minutes to adapt and register the hour, participants should be feeling productive and satisfied (especially if they’ve recently eaten breakfast), and there’s a generous enough buffer to ensure that even an unexpectedly long meeting is finished by lunchtime.

So, forget the 12:00 meeting. 10:15 is the new 12!

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