How long should you wait for a guest in a virtual meeting?

Meeting Insights

How long should you wait for a guest in a virtual meeting?

This is a common question surrounding meeting etiquette and can be a difficult one to figure out when put in this situation. When someone is late to a meeting it does not only impact the productivity of those already in the call and waiting, but can also lead to the meeting becoming thrown off-course and can delay plans for the rest of the day. This is mainly down to the fact that if someone is running late, they are usually stressed and not in a productive state of mind to discuss potentially important material.  

To answer this question, we have gathered data from an online poll that asked individuals how long they thought it was acceptable to wait until it’s time to hang up and move on with your day.

How long do you wait for a guest in a virtual meeting?
Up to 5 minutes      Up to 10 minutes      Up to 15 minutes      Other
37%      48%      13% 2%


Waiting 5-10 mins is the most popular meeting etiquette

Out of 302 responses, 37% of those stated that they would wait up to 5 minutes for a late guest. 48% of our responses said that up to 10 minutes would be a good time limit to bear in mind when waiting and 13% said they would wait up to 15 minutes. Finally, we had 2% of voters choosing the other choice which they followed up with comments stating their reason why.  

There are lots of factors to consider when deciding how long to wait

It was clear from the results of the poll that how long you wait is dependent on many factors.  

One participant stated that they usually tend to wait for 20% of the overall meeting time due to the fact that things can unexpectedly come up or not work at that moment. Another participant said that they usually give the guest the benefit of the doubt and wait a few minutes before getting in contact with the person to check up and see where they are. This was quite a common response among the comments as well as others saying that guests shouldn’t be late at all.

It seems that a good amount of time to wait for a guest would be up to 10 minutes which would allow for any technical errors to be fixed or unforeseen issues to be dealt with. I think that we can agree that attendees should ideally be on time for all meetings however, understanding that things can go wrong sometimes which can lead to guests being late, is a great way to approach the issue. Once your guest has arrived, it is important to make them comfortable so that you can enjoy a productive meeting going forward.  

Should you go or wait?

We have summarised the results of the poll into some points below which you should consider before you press the red button to hang up while you are waiting for your next guest.

  • Have you reminded your guest about the call ahead of time?
  • Have you tried to contact your guest after a few minutes to see if they are on their way or are experiencing issues?
  • Are you in the right virtual meeting?
  • Has your guest tried to contact you?
  • Can you start the meeting without them and they can catch up later?

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