What to do when you’re hosting a webinar or Zoom call

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If you’re hosting a webinar or Zoom call, don’t “wait a few minutes for late people to join in.”

It just makes every webinar start 5-10 minutes late, rewards the wrong people and punishes people who arrive on time.

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  1. Meetings are scheduled to start on the hour with the actual meeting starting at :05.

    The real LPT is have an agenda and stick to it. That way meetings don’t go over.

  2. Conversely if the key contributor is late you will have a bunch of questions which cannot be answered or missing materials, and if it’s a manager that needs to understand the plan/schedule then you will repeat yourself and waste all the time anyway. The proper approach is to stall when you know a scenario such as above will occur but start on time if not. Also, follow up with chronic late attenders and discuss the problem one on one and set expectations and boundaries. Finally, realize that despite everyone’s best efforts people are always going to be late occasionally, especially when you have back-to-back meetings scheduled and sometimes they go long and you have no choice but to stay.

  3. This is totally context dependent.

    First, culture. Having worked with international groups, some are huge. If you’re working with Germans and the meeting starts at 10:00, this means everybody is present and ready to go the moment the clock strikes the hour. In fact, most people will be present several minutes before. Not doing so is considered disrespectful. Working with their neighbors in France, and around 10:15 people will start walking in and turning on the teleconference equipment. This can be dealt with in wording if you know it can happen: *”The meeting will start promptly at 10:00, please sign in before 9:55 to ensure your system is working.* One of my favorite screen captures on it had an entire German engineering teem with notebooks in their seats, the English filing into their conference room, and the cleaning crew preparing the empty French conference room where they said they’re on their way to the office.

    Another context is who is late. If the meeting is being called on behalf of someone, maybe the client, maybe the potential sales lead, maybe the boss, maybe a student, it is your responsibility to be there early. And if they’re late not only do you just wait, but also possibly to contact them through other means to ask if they are having difficulty connecting to the meeting.

    There certainly are many meetings where the presentation starts when the minute strikes, but it isn’t universal.

  4. Ehh. I’m a very punctual person and I disagree. It really depends on the situation, but I just always assume that things will get started five minutes after the scheduled time. Things happen. Computers and internet connections can do funny things at the last moment. People aren’t always late out of neglect.

  5. Yeah, no. As others have stated, always assume a meeting will start around 5 minutes after the scheduled start time. Many people have back-to-back meetings and their prior meeting may run a tiny bit over. Or, computer issues may require someone to restart their software. My personal favorite is when you go to log in to the meeting and there is a forced update and you have to wait until it is done.

    If someone hasn’t shown up after 5 minutes, then you can start without them or reschedule. But everyone I know allows the first 5 minutes to be a buffer time before the actual meeting starts. Heck, half the time even if everyone shows up on time the first 5 minutes are people just casually talking before starting the actual meeting.

  6. If it’s a 15 minute meeting, yes. If it’s a 3 hour workshop, nah, there is slack built into that. Also, doesn’t take into account seniority, there is probably a good reason the CEO is late, I’ll hold

  7. A lot of thing can happen with a computer (update, lost internet connection, etc.) instead you should plan the meeting with with this 5 minutes at the beginning where people already there can talk or meet if they never have before

  8. This is a terrible LPT. No. Is OP a middle school teacher?

    We’re not having meetings to enforce rules and punish people. We have meetings to, y’know, learn and collaborate and share feedback on actual topics of work. Giving people a couple extra minutes to log in is FAR MORE EFFICIENT than going over all the same material multiple times because you were too impatient to wait 2 minutes.

    Maybe if you’re dealing with children and are trying to teach them the concept of a schedule. But if you actually intend your meeting to be about a topic other than scheduling, treat people like adults for god’s sake.

  9. Just open it up for people to join a few minutes early, so people with latency can join in and don’t miss anything. Some of my teachers like to open online classes at the exact time the class is scheduled and are surprised how everyone isn’t spamming the refresh button to join in immediately.

  10. Counter LPT:
    Always start your Zoom meetings 5 minutes after the scheduled start time. Those who are running late (for whatever reason) will appreciate it, and those who were on time get 5 minutes to chat or just breathe.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but back to back Zoom calls all day are draining, and I absolutely appreciate the break. I get the impression my coworkers do too.

  11. lol this is ridiculous and most likely from someone with little to no actual corporate experience.

    A minute or two to let everyone join is perfectly reasonable. In other instances, certain people must be waited on while others are less important to the meeting.

    Reality is often nuanced.

  12. This is way too general.

    Sometimes an important stakeholder has a meeting run late— maybe get a quick text/message to them and check.

    There are lots of reasons to hold off on starting a meeting at the exact start time. Life is messy.

  13. People have back to back meetings and you don’t want to leave out key people. Silly LPT. No one really cares that much if they have to sit for a sec before getting started. Do you actually have work calls on Zoom? This reads like someone who doesn’t actually engage in Zoom calls. 10 minutes late? That’s ridiculous, all my homies are 3-4 minutes late tops

    If I start my standup on the hour before my manager shows up, what the fuck do you think I’m gonna do once they do show up? I know they’re busy. I’ll have to repeat myself once they join, since they need to hear the info the most.

    In fact if it’s a meeting in which my manager joins after I do, she will call the shot on when we can start. It’s up to her since it’s just members of our team we’re waiting for and technically none of them NEED to be there

  14. *…and that’s how to get your cash bonus. Oh hey, it looks like Gary has joined us. Well, let’s move on with the agenda then…*

  15. We found that scheduling the start of meetings at x:05 was the most efficient. And maintaining a hard stop when the meeting ends as well. We were very proactive about meeting efficiency and efficacy. We made bulleted agendas we stuck to and used parking for tangential topics. Then shared the recording and notes to everyone on the email as well as on our file sharing platform.

    This was the first company in my career and I had no idea how good I had it.

  16. When meetings are back to back all day, some will go over for valid reasons and at the very least will require a minute of transition in between.

    Waiting a few minutes is the polite and sensible norm.

    Spend the first few minutes making small talk or setting the stage in a way that won’t result in latecomers not being able to catch up and contribute.

    If the latecomers weren’t necessary, why were they invited in the first place?

  17. Oh shut up OP. I have at least one work zoom meeting a day and sometimes the shit just sucks and you have to work through bugs or computer/phone restarts to get into it. The 5-10 minute buffer given is for anyone haveing connectivity issues. Sometimes everyone is online on time. Sometimes not.

  18. When I was in AmeriCorps NCCC, the rule was (and still is) that we had to be wherever our meeting place was 5 minutes *before* the scheduled training/meeting/etc. So we got a meeting at 3pm? Great, see ya’ll at 2:55. We call it AmeriTime.

    I didn’t get it at first and it was annoying as hell but it didn’t take long to realize how beneficial it was. I may be punctual but it’s nice to just say hi to your fellow people and let your brain transition into listening mode.

  19. chronically on-time people have such a ridiculous chip on their shoulder. they convince themselves to have incredible anxiety about punctuality. then they get furious when people don’t reward them for how much stress they put themselves through by punishing others. the world is a better place when people just relax about stuff running 5 minutes late, it’s not that serious

  20. Bad idea. Your counter-parties may be jumping from another meeting. In the office world, they could be walking over from another conference room. Plan your content to begin at 0:05 and use the first 5 mins for intros, small talk etc

  21. I tend to do this as a uni lecturer simply because if I don’t you can guarantee some late-comer is going to ask you a question you covered in the first ten minutes then ask you to repeat it.

    I don’t go silent in the ten minute wait period, though. I set that time aside to say good morning to the people who showed up on time and chat about current events in our industry (game development) with them. Sometimes I do a little trivia quiz or something. I have a bunch of 10-15 minute quizzes and topics stored up to fill that wait period. Last Christmas I did a short games trivia quiz in the wait period for our last session of the calendar year to give away a Razer keyboard I got as a review sample.

  22. The point isn’t to punish people, its to relay information to the correct/most amount of people.

    Zoom meetings arent a treat, are you a child lol?

  23. As an early or on-time person, I don’t feel punished by waiting for a few minutes. I can always get something done in those few minutes or enjoy the break. I also get to enjoy the same courtesy in the rare times where I am running late. Waiting a few minutes isn’t a reward; it’s a courtesy.

  24. This is not a LPT. This is a statement of principles that will not work for more than 10% of teleconferences at work.

    90% of the time, the people who make the decisions are the ones who are late.

  25. “rewards the wrong people and punishes people who arrive on time”…are you running a meeting or a third grade online history class? How about “acknowledge that other peoples’ meetings or client calls may run late, plan for a few minutes of straggler arrival, then stick tightly to your agenda so that you don’t cause more late meeting arrivals” like a respectful adult dealing with other adults?

  26. I feel ya. I’m doing a course via zoom and the facilitator always waits like 10 minutes for stragglers. It drives me nuts.

  27. People are defending those that show up 5 minutes late. If I am 3 minutes late I will get a text to get on from somebody on my team. Calendars are pretty straight forward and if it is work related you need to be on top of it. If you are having trouble getting into a video call,, message somebody in the meeting on your phone, there is no excuse unless an emergency happens. I’ve been at my current job for 18 months and I’ve forgotten a grand total of 3 out of over 800 meetings. Use your calendar on your phone to remind yourself the night prior if you have an early meeting you are afraid you might sleep through. But if its your boss or a client you obviously wait for them.

  28. I don’t have anything to contribute but a story.

    I once scheduled a meeting at 11:07am. To my suprised, everyone was on time including my manager and all of other team manager. During lunch, couple of people complained to me that by setting the time at non traditional interval, it made them conscious about the time and anxiety.

    I always set time weirdly with my friends so that they come on time. Didnt know it can cause people anxiety.

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