16 Ways to Prevent Latecomers from Derailing Corporate Events

Time running OutWith the pressure to deliver sales rallies, team building, workshops, and meetings in tighter and tighter time frames, there is little margin. Latecomers can seriously blow timelines and derail corporate events. If participants are habitually late, it's time to pause, take stock and re-think your strategy.

There are steps that you can take before and during events to minimize disruptions due to lateness.

Preventing Lateness

To to reduce lateness:

  • Add the word "sharp" to all announcements.
    (e.g, 8:30 AM Sharp). This first tip comes from Jimmy Graham of Partymix Entertainment Services.
  • In your communiques, make it clear that you will begin on time.
  • Announce a door prize of substantial value to be drawn at the very beginning of the meeting, conference or corporate event.
    Stipulate that the winner must be present to qualify.
  • Make the pre-event menu very appealing and include it with the announcement.
    Try crepe stations for breakfast or an afternoon tea for an event that starts after work. And make it clear that service will end at the start time for the event.
  • Announcing a complimentary host bar and a signature cocktail for the 30 minutes preceding a special event will encourage participants to come early.
  • Validate or provide passes for free parking for all participants who arrive up to 15 minutes before your event.
  • If participants are responsible for their own lunches, find a sponsor so that you can provide free lunch coupons to all participants who arrive up to 15 minutes before your event.
  • Kick off special events or conferences with 15 minutes of blockbuster entertainment that participants will not want to miss.
    (e.g. Guest Celebrity appearance, Taiko drummers, capoeira, lion dancers, or, for the 20 and early 30s crowd, hip hop dancers.)

Minimizing Disruptions

For All Events

  • Always start on time. Follow the example of theater ushers and have greeters seat latecomers during transitions.
    Starting late rewards latecomers and encourages participants to be late.
  • Never begin with important announcements, housekeeping or your CEO presentation.
    Have a hard copy of announcements and housekeeping items in your handouts. Have greeters refer participants who miss this content to that material. (Mark it with a Post-it Flag for all handouts distribute to late arrivals.)
  • Build white space into your events, buffers in case a speaker runs overtime or service is slow at lunch.

For Conferences:

  • Rope off the last few rows or a few tables near the door for latecomers.
    That way they can slip in without disturbing the other attendees.
  • For auditoriums, designate a back entrance to be used once the meeting has started.
    Block off seats for late comers near the entrance.

For Meetings, Workshops or Team Building:

  • Reserve a few seats near the door so that late comers can slip in quietly.
  • Avoid ice breakers unless you have a highly creative crowd.
    Icebreakers have become such a turn-off that some participants will come late just to avoid them.
  • Replace icebreakers with a session starter, a short, highly targeted exercise to be completed in pairs or trios.
    Begin in pairs and as others arrive, have them join a pair that is already working.

What tips would you add to this list?

Sometimes, lateness just can't be avoided so never make latecomers feel unwelcome or embarrassed. Design corporate events to encourage early arrival and to easily integrate latecomers without disrupting other participants.

For more tips on reducing the impact of lateness, also see Choosing the Right Room for Your Event, The Event Welcome Mat, and Breakfast: The Bottom Line.

Photo Credits: sirwiseowl

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