Early mornings are one of the best times to hold meetings. The phones haven’t started ringing yet. The emails aren’t piling up. You’re not disrupting any work that’s already underway. Many people are at their most alert first thing in the morning. And you can gain plenty of value from having the group’s full attention.
Whether it’s a quick huddle, a board meeting, or other type of get-together, the morning time slot can be ideal. But to maximize productivity, successful morning meetings depend on efficiency (and caffeine).
We have a few tips for making your early morning meeting the most productive task of the day. Here’s how to get started.
Spring for Caffeine
The single most important part of any morning meeting is coffee. Never skimp on the quality of coffee that you serve. Your attendees will appreciate it. Most coffee drinkers are particular about how they take it. Make sure fresh coffee is available when people arrive and make it self-serve. That way people can load up on cream and sugar as they please. For the caffeine-conscious and the non-coffee drinkers, have decaf on hand and a selection of teas. Offer paper to-go cups so attendees can take the cup back to their desks.
People usually expect to eat at early morning meetings. Expect people to arrive hungry. Serving some type of breakfast is always a great idea, and there are many ways to go. The nature of the meeting will help you decide which breakfast option will work best. An assortment of donuts or pastries are a good option for short meetings. Or, add add some fruit, juice, yogurt, and cereal for a continental breakfast. For longer meetings, consider serving a full breakfast buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, and more. Remember that breakfast fuels productivity. If people show up to your meeting hungry, they’ll be distracted and you’ll waste time.
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If the meeting is a regular occurrence, be consistent with time and location. This will keep attendees from getting confused about where to go and at what time. Also, keep the meeting style consistent. If you have a regular weekly informal team huddle, avoid scheduling a longer meeting during that time slot. Always start morning meetings on time and keep things within the specified timeframe.
Have a Clear Purpose
Meeting organizers should have a clear and specific reason for holding an early morning meeting. Is it a short morning huddle, a brainstorming session, a status update, training, or other type of gathering? Keep the purpose in mind as you plan the breakfast options and create an agenda — and, stick to it.
Organize the Agenda
Creating a specific agenda and keeping everyone on task will keep the meeting moving along. Depending on the type of meeting, send out the agenda to everyone the afternoon before. During the meeting, choose someone to lead the proceedings and establish a way for everyone involved to contribute. For example, go clockwise around the room so everyone has a turn to speak.
Having everyone stand up during the morning meeting will keep things short. No one likes to stand for long periods of time, so people may be more apt to stay on track and keep their remarks brief. Stand-up meetings are best for team-huddle type gatherings where new ideas are not introduced. This won’t work for every type of meeting. But it’ll help your group stay on task for a short burst of time.
Keep the meeting engaging and energetic to help attendees wake up and kick-start their day. Make sure the room is bright and welcoming, with a high-energy meeting leader. Early morning meetings are not usually the best time to dim the lights for presentations.
Leave Time for Networking
Everyone likes to have a morning water-cooler chat, so, whenever possible, leave a little time for that at the end of the meeting. Larger meetings are great networking events. Allow time after all the agenda items for people to work the room and make some contacts.
Keep It Short
People are busy. Many attendees have a full day ahead of them of answering emails, working on important projects, and attending more meetings. Keep early morning meetings as short and efficient as possible.
End on a Positive Note
Always end early morning meetings with a positive tone. Give attendees a motivational or inspirational takeaway to power the rest of the day. This will help attendees feel like the experience has been productive and meaningful.
People often prefer early morning meetings because they get started before the day’s business. This means fewer interruptions to the workday. Keep this in mind as you choose breakfast items, create the agenda, and structure the meeting to keep the gathering as productive and efficient as possible.