Zoom Series: Set a “No Late Arrivals” Policy

When it comes to virtual facilitation, there are a few ground rules we’ve developed to help us and our participants know what to expect at our session.

One of the most transformative rules we’ve implemented is our policy on No Late Arrivals.

When it comes to virtual sessions, we’ve found that late arrivals are disruptive and throw us off our game. There’s not an easy way to quietly “sneak in” on Zoom, and as facilitators, we can’t just pop by their table and catch them up.

Here’s how to set your own No Late Arrivals policy.

Defining Lateness

Figure out a cutoff time.

For hour-long sessions, we typically close the doors 10 minutes after the start. For longer sessions, we either go with a 10% rule or base it on when the agenda hits a point of no return.

We know that different people and cultures have varying degrees of what they consider “being late” so we always try to be as specific as possible when announcing the cutoff time (i.e. “The doors to this session will close 10 minutes after it starts at 2:10 pm ET”).

Let Folks Know

We don’t ever want to surprise our participants with this policy so once we’ve decided on the cutoff time we mention it everywhere.

Prominently display what time you will be “closing the doors” on the registration page, and anywhere you are communicating about the event — posts, emails, blogs, Instas, etc.

Put it into practice

There’s no shame in this game!

We’re not here to try and shame our participants who are running late. We know that life happens, things come up, and people get lost in their calendars. We have this policy in order to create a more seamless experience for both ourselves and the participants who were able to make it on time (which we explicitly say in all communications).

To “close the doors” we simply enable the waiting room on Zoom when the time comes.

Find this option on Zooms website. Click “my account” and then “settings” to find the option to “Customize Waiting Room”. Once that window has opened, edit your message to whatever you want it to say.

When it comes to sessions we’re running for clients the same rules apply! We always check in about it ahead of time, that way they can reinforce it with their staff. In cases where it doesn’t align with their company policies to have a cut-off time we can then adjust our session and be prepared for drop-ins.

This has allowed us to be more present in every single virtual session since we’ve implemented it, just be sure to change that waiting room description back when you’re done.

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Check out the rest of our Get Better at Zoom Series:

How to use Breakout Rooms like a Pro

Breakout Rooms pt.2 - Participation Boogaloo

Breakout Rooms pt. 3 - Why do Solo Breakouts

How to Make Digital Handouts Easy

Three Unique Ways to use the Zoom Chat

Improve Recordings with These Five Tips!

p.s. We have this “no late arrivals” policy in action at our bi-monthly Card Sharks events. Card Sharks is a free session for anyone with a deck of Facilitator Cards to learn new techniques as facilitators and put the cards into action. Get your deck of Facilitator Cards here and RSVP for our next Card Sharks to see us put our Zoom tips into action!

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