“I do start the web meeting at least 10 minutes early and send the customer a test link and ask them to join early, but in spite of that many customers are still late and so we lose 15 -20 minutes of the slated time. This also happens when meetings are face-to-face. Got any tips for encouraging customers to start on time?”
I often see the same problem – that it is the customer who is late. Unfortunately, this is an endemic issue, due (typically) either to company culture (“we always start meetings late”) and/or disrespect for vendors).
Three suggestions for solutions:
1. There is nothing sacred about “1 hour”. I often schedule meetings (phone, web, face-to-face) that are what others might consider of “non-standard” duration: 45 minutes long; 75 minutes long; etc. If people arrive on time and you finish early, then you give everyone a few minutes back in their day. If people are 10-15 minutes late (and you planned on 60 minutes for the “actual” meeting), then it all works.
One small risk with this (and it does happen), is that some people may still not respect the non-standard time-frame and schedule another meeting that cuts into yours. Not much you can do about this, however, other than to…
2. Organize your content using the inverted pyramid approach (like a news article) so that you cover the most important topics up-front. If you do run out of time, at least you’ve gone through the most important material. Which leads to number 3:
3. If you know you are going to run out of time, and there is still important material to cover, a few minutes before the planned end of the meeting you can ask:
a. “Looks like we may run out of time, based on our original plan for 1 hour, shall we go ahead and continue for another 20 minutes now, if we are all available?” or
b. “Looks like we may run out of time, based on our original plan for 1 hour, shall we schedule a follow-up meeting later this week when we are all available?”
Hope these suggestions help…!