Meetings – Timing is Everything

Meeting Timing Image

Planning events is time-consuming. From large-scale national conferences to regular chapter meetings, the time spent is only worth it if there are attendees present in the chairs. To ensure this, knowing when people are most likely to come, morning, afternoon, or evening, involves a lot more than you might initially think.

1) Who are your members?

Everything in your chapter begins and ends with your members. Find out who they are by conducting a survey. Ask them when they want to come to meetings. Also find out a bit about who they are, including interests and work constraints. Include a few questions about content of meetings and events so that you can be certain regarding the needs of your members.

It is also important to consider the kind of people who generally attend a particular meeting type and then cater meetings to those people in attendance. It doesn’t benefit a chapter to offer an event with drinks and networking in the post-dinner time frame if the people who you are targeting are retired business executives that want to be done with their day long before the sun goes down.

Typically speaking, those who attend morning (breakfast) meetings are entrepreneurial types with a less rigid schedule. They desire flexibility and creative insights.

A lunch meeting also attracts those same entrepreneurial types, but 9-5 executives in urban areas and retired mentor-type members are the most likely attendees here.

Early evening dinner meetings are meant to attract the traditional 9-5 types who often strive to keep their work separate from their other activities. You might find entrepreneurs here, as well, but are least likely to see those retired mentor-type members, unless they have a vested interest in attending the event.

Post-dinner meetings tend to attract various types of members, but generally those who don’t have to be up too early will regularly attend these meetings.

2) What is your meeting purpose?

Why are you holding the event in the first place? It seems like a redundant question, but sometimes chapters get into a routine and hold events for the sake of holding them. The content then starts to become predictable and members lose interest and stop attending. What may seem like a problem with time, may be a problem with content. Take a closer look at your meetings, including evaluation by attendees and non-attendees alike. Then, adjust accordingly for content and time.

3) What are your location needs?

A lot of what goes into meeting time selection is venue availability. If a space simply isn’t available at a certain time, then obviously that isn’t going to be the time for the meeting. The type of content presentation also plays a role. For example, having a location that is geared toward drinks and networking won’t work for a morning meeting.

You could possibly have rotating meeting times and locations, if this meets the needs of your membership. Though think about the lack of stability that presents itself here. The greater the diversity of your membership, the more likely a rotating schedule will work for your chapter.

Knowledge is Power

As noted above, optimize your attendance based on type of members and their needs using that ever-important survey. Use your members’ own words about needs and desires to shape time, location, and content. It is their chapter, after all. They should share in the decision-making process, so you can have success in all aspects of your chapter, not just event planning.

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