The perfect meeting: that illusive blend of short but long enough to complete your objectives, focussed without being boring, and above all, efficient. It can be difficult to find a time that suits everyone’s schedule, let alone one that maximises our peak mental performance. So that leaves the question: is there one perfect time to hold a meeting?
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Everyone has a different circadian rhythm – the phenomenon that determines if we are considered a ‘night owl’ or an ‘early bird’ – and every company is built differently. But if you do a bit of research into what the most productive time of day is, what days to avoid, and what is the ideal amount of time, you can get as close to a perfect meeting as possible.
The best day
It will probably come as no surprise that Mondays and Fridays are not ideal times to have a meeting. On Monday, people are still bleary from the weekend and transiting into their weekday routines. On Friday, people are too excited for the upcoming days off. You want to give people enough time to prepare in advance – it’s not worth it to get everyone together if you have to spend the first half of the meeting getting everyone up to speed.
The best time
Studies have shown that regardless of ‘night owls’ or ‘early birds’, mornings are the most productive times for us. In a study by The Creative Group, a total of 400 marketing executives were polled on what time of the day they feel most productive and creative, and the majority responded that 8am to 12pm was their optimal time for creativity and productivity.
If your remote workers are scattered across the globe, it can be even more difficult to find a time that suits everyone. Using a time converter is one easy way to make this process a bit less stressful: simply plug in the time of your meeting, and it will automatically enter the appropriate times for the relevant zones around the world. This way, you can try to optimise everyone’s best time more effectively.
The best length
How long before you lose your audience? You might want to take a leaf out of TED curator Chris Anderson’s book. He says that 18 minutes is ‘long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention … By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.’
So what is the best time to hold a meeting?
Based on what we’ve found out so far, the ideal time for a meeting would be a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning for 18 minutes between 8 am and 12 pm. This, however, might not be doable for everyone – every company is different and it will take some trial and error to find the best way to find your optimal productivity.
Gemma Falconer is a member of the Demand Generation team at Citrix and GoToMeeting, a cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles. She has been using collaboration tools/video conferencing/online meetings for the past 6 years and splits her working time between the office and home. Having experienced the flexibility and various advantages of using such technology, Gemma would love for employers to seriously consider offering collaboration tools and flexible working for their employees so they too can truly benefit. Gemma is a mother, keen volleyball player and writer. Find her on Twitter on LinkedIn.