by Sarah J.F. Braley | November 01, 2006

chartFor a snapshot of planners’ agenda-scheduling habits, M&C conducted an online survey in August. When asked how long the average meeting lasts, 43 percent of the 293 respondents said three days, 24 percent said their programs last two days and 18 percent said four days; 1 percent typically hold meetings that last for more than five days.

Attendees are required to get up with the sun, as the majority (89 percent) of planners surveyed reported the meeting day starts at 8:30 a.m. or earlier. Two percent of the sample, however, don’t schedule a meeting to commence until after 10 a.m. The majority (88 percent) plan a full business day for their groups as well, finishing up the day at 4 p.m. or later.

Along the way, most meetings offer two breaks, not counting meals, as reported by 72 percent of the sample. Another 14 percent offer three breaks. Attendees have an average of 15 to 20 minutes to get coffee and make phone calls, according to 61 percent of the respondents; 18 percent give their groups 25 to 30 minutes to stretch their legs.

As for building leisure time into meetings, 69 percent of those surveyed always or sometimes schedule time off for their groups, while a third (31 percent) never do; more than half (53 percent) do not build leisure time into each meeting day.

Less than 10 percent of the overall agenda is free time, according to 55 percent of the sample, while about a quarter (27 percent) said 11 to 20 percent of the group’s time is free. Many planners (68 percent) sometimes or always arrange outings for their attendees, such as rounds of golf, spa appointments and shopping trips.

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