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Bored, lonely? How about a meeting?


Do you love a good meeting, or do you relate to the picture below?

Ah….meetings, the bane of all organisations, departments and businesses!

As an employee, we grow to hate them in most cases, except for those who see them as a great opportunity to do nothing for a while and have coffee, a chat and a good time by hiding into obscurity in the boardroom!

Organisers (or those who do well) get anxious, stressed and spend a lot of time preparing for their meeting, with reports, presentations, data, agendas, catering etc. Those organisers who don’t plan well and just ‘rock on in’ don’t get too stressed as they form part of one of the causes of the negative meeting syndrome– they wing it and make the meeting process a complete waste of time for all of the attendees.

Having worked previously in the corporate world, I moved through various stages of meeting viewpoints as an employee.

I loved them initially as I got out of real work.

I came to stress about them as I had to present and plan content.

I then I became negative and cynical as they took up so much time, which I saw no value in, and would actually sooner be doing other more productive things.

I had become a victim of the negative meeting syndrome and suffered meeting overdose! We had a whole day of meetings on a Tuesday and it got beyond the joke.

Imagine the whole team of 12 management team, with salary ranges from $150-400,000  being locked in various meetings each and every week for the entire day! This is where my cynicism started I believe, as I started looking at what we achieved vs. the cost of a meeting and it soon came down to simply asking the question to yourself of ‘If I was to pay for this meeting to occur at this cost…would I?’  In most cases the answer was no!

Let’s have a quick back the envelope look at an average 1 hour meeting from those days…

  • Assume $200,000 average salary x 12 people = $95.15 per hour per person
  • $1141.80 meeting cost per hour (never start on time, end on time, so add 50% = $1712.70
  • Preparation time of facilitator @ 2hrs, attendees assume 30 mins = 8hr = $761.20
  • Total estimated cost to business for 1 hour meeting = $2473.90.
  • This doesn’t include any opportunity cost for time that could have been spent on other activities, and is probably a bit low in some of the actual time allocated for preparation and other activities of co-coordinating.

On a typical Tuesday there was at least 6 of these entire team meetings occurring in the day which brings the total business cost to $14,843.40!

I know this may be exaggerating the point a bit, but the cost of meetings and the thought process that everything can be solved by having a meeting is a hidden cost and a false opinion to business owners.

Business meetings are necessary, but need to be contained, managed and planned to get a maximum return, just like any other activity you undertake. Consider the following:

– Should you engage the entire team in the meeting, or just key stakeholders?

– Do you need to travel to meetings, or can you utilise Skype, GoToMeeting or other technology (even the phone?).

– Consider the frequency and time of meetings- does it really need to be every week?

– Ensure an agenda complete with the objective or outcome intent is covered. No meeting should be held without any end game in sight.

– Get feedback from employees regarding the meeting and the value. Did they get as excited as you did, or did you waste their time?

– How much did that meeting cost me?

Take the time to cost some of your regular meetings and determine whether you would write a cheque for that amount to someone to come and run the same meeting. If the answer is no, then maybe the process around the meeting and the cost to the business needs some reviewing? When you do this, if your meeting involves sales people or those who are normally ‘out there’ selling for your business, don’t forget to add the opportunity cost of lost revenue while they attend as well as their cost!

How much does your weekly/ daily meeting process cost your business?



Tony Ozanne

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