We hear things like this all the time (and probably say them, too, at least behind closed doors or in breakrooms):

  • “That meeting was a waste of time.”
  • “That meeting was boring.”
  • “I don’t know why I needed to be at that meeting.”
  • “We came out of that meeting with nothing.”
  • “I hate those $%#$%$% meetings!”

Most leaders I’ve worked with are unaware of how ineffective their meetings are. When they are aware, they don’t typically know what to do to improve them. The outcome? Cynicism, decreased morale, less productivity, wasted time, and so on. Not what you want for your organization.

The Actual Cost of Meetings

While there are many things you can do to make your meetings more productive, engaging, and exciting (to be discussed in future posts), here’s a simple way to assess how good your meeting is (let’s say it’s a one-hour meeting):

  1. Tally up the number of people in the meeting
  2. Estimate how much each person gets paid per hour and calculate the average
  3. Multiply #1 x #2

The answer to #3 is how much it costs to have that meeting. If you have ten participants and their average hourly pay is $25, the meeting costs $250.

Now, ask yourself if what you accomplished during the meeting was worth that cost. If you were the leader of the company, would you have paid that amount for the meeting? Would the meeting have been worth it if it came out of your paycheck?

Typically, your answer is likely to be “no.”

That’s just the cost in terms of dollars. This doesn’t include the cost of things like lower morale, increased cynicism, loss of focus, wasted energy, and so on.

How to make your meetings worth the cost

So, when you’re considering the cost of your meetings, here are three simple questions to ask that can immediately make your meetings better:

  • “What would we need to get out of the meeting to make it worth x dollars?”
  • “Who is worth paying x dollars per hour to be at this meeting?”
  • “What other ways could we meet the same objectives without having the meeting and pay fewer people for their time (without sacrificing quality)?”

Your answers should give you some direction for future meetings. Unsure of how to answer the questions? Ask the participants. You’ll at least get some insights to start moving in the right direction.

This should get you started. To be continued …