The Cost of Meetings...

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Just come out of yet *another* meeting, got two more to attend today before you can even begin to get on with your work?

Let's think about the cost of the meetings you attend during your working week. It's a relatively simple equation.

To do that you will need to calculate the hourly rate of pay plus the on-costs (employer’s contributions) for each person attending.


Calculate the cost to you in human terms. When the meeting ends you will still have the work waiting for you on your desk that you were unable to complete because you were attended the meeting. Did you have to stay late or take the work home?


Calculate the cost of traveling time if appropriate.

So for argument's sake let’s say the meeting lasts 2 hours. Six people attended with an average cost of £50 per hour. 

£50 x 6 x 2 = £600 

Now that you have a "cost" figure in mind - ask yourself:

  • was that the best value for money? 
  • did everyone *really* need to be there?
  • was there an alternative, more effective use of everyone’s time? 
  • what was achieved by having the meeting? (I have attended meetings in the past when all that was actually agreed was the date of the next meeting!)

I worked with a client recently who had spent over 30 hours in the previous week at meetings. That is 62% of her available working time! This was the norm for her. The consequence was she was constantly under huge pressure to spend ever-increasing numbers of hours at work to get the job done. 

This is what I suggested she do in order to solve her problem of *costly* meetings (the following exercise was done by her initially and then by her whole team). 

  • Each member of the team created a timetable of the meetings they had attended in the previous week.
  • They graded them according to their relevance and usefulness in helping them to meet their targets within work.
  •  5 = completely useful and relevant. 1= of no use of relevance.
  • The picture varied from person to person. The major proportion for some were graded a 3 or below. Many were at level 1 or 2.

Together they discussed:

  • What was the purpose of the meeting
  • Who was the most appropriate person to attend the different types of meeting?
  • What was the most effective way of handling others' expectations around their attendance?
  • How could information be shared with the most effective use of time?

Then they agreed the following:

  • Criteria for inviting others to attend meetings
  • Criteria for pre-meeting information
  • Criteria for refusing to attend meetings
  • Actions to keep all parties involved
  • How they were going to manage the expectations of people outside their team
  • How they were going to inform everyone of their agreement
  • When and how they would monitor the effectiveness of their new way of working

The outcome of this clear-headed look at the cost vs value of meetings created a huge change in the way meetings were managed within the team and with the organization as a whole. The expectations of others are now being managed effectively and much time is being saved as a result with no adverse impact on productivity.

Think about your personal circumstances at work. What if anything is the relevance of this to you? Do you manage others? What are the impacts of meetings on your team and their workload? Are there ways of using technology creatively to save time traveling to and from meetings or to share information?

Maybe you need *me* to help you cut out unnecessary meetings?

If you need any further assistance with reviewing and clarifying whether your meetings are being helpful or hindering you or help with becoming an Enlightened Leader so that you can guide others, then there are lots of free resources and content, plus a fully CPD Accredited training programme that may just be perfect for you. Just head over to my website HERE.

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