There are several reasons it’s important to start on time:
- You’ve planned a full meeting with many great things to do.
- If the leader waits until everyone gets there, they are rewarding the late ones and penalizing the ones who arrived on time.
- By waiting, the leader trains people to come late because that is when they actually start.
By starting “on time” I actually mean a few minutes after the actual start time (let’s say it’s 7:00 p.m.). Allowing people to get a refreshment if they arrive at 7:00, and allowing for a bit of natural chit chat, is important to do if at all possible. Try to have people sit down around 7:00 and gather people into the meeting room no later than 7:05 or so. If the meeting time is two hours as opposed to ninety minutes, chit chat time can more easily be included and the actual group might not start for up to ten or fifteen minutes after the official start time. This creates a great “un-rushed” feel to the group, which relaxes people and puts them at ease.