Carolina Lopez August 8th, 2022

The Cost of Inefficient Meetings and How to Overcome Them?

Have you ever met an employee or manager that looks forward to reoccurring meetings? That leaves back-to-back meetings to feel productive, clear-headed and equipped for the next steps. Most people have not, as meetings have been painted as this draining activity that is overwhelming, time-consuming, and used less. For the rare person who has encountered someone that loves attending meetings, it is generally because their organization has a positive meeting culture.

Meetings do not need to be a draining activity. When a company invests in their meeting productivity and culture, meetings can become an energizing and efficient activity that provides clarity and helps you develop professionally. For example, one-on-one meetings between a manager and their direct report should not be an anxiety-ridden conversation with unclear expectations and an unpredictable outcome. By simply setting a clear meeting agenda with both attendees talking points and action items, the direct report can be empowered to use the set time to discuss roadblocks and gain clarity on their progress.

Many organizations do not see the benefits of investing in their meeting culture. Some are even more aware that their companywide inefficiency or lack of motivation could be related to a meeting problem. Not considering how effective and productive your company meetings are is an expensive mistake. The meeting problem costs US companies $37 billion annually.

The first step in addressing an inefficient or lacking meeting culture is bringing awareness to the cost of your meetings. When employees and managers quantify the price of a forum, they become more mindful of the meeting inefficiencies. This blog post will discuss calculating the cost of your meetings and four tips to optimize your meetings and improve your meeting culture.

Why calculate the cost of your meetings?

Before explaining how to calculate the cost of your meeting, it is essential to understand why this is an important metric to qualify. As mentioned above, many organizations are not aware of their meeting problem. It can be challenging to pinpoint the issue as it can be disguised. For example, an unsuccessful marketing campaign where the target audience was not accurately defined could be because the team did not have an initial planning meeting and there was no alignment in the project.

Calculating the cost of your meetings is the first step in addressing an organization’s meeting problem. As this post will later discuss, changing a meeting culture will require leadership buy-in; when the cost of a meeting is quantified, it will be easier for the leadership team to understand the depth and urgency of the problem. Ultimately, calculating the cost of your meetings will allow:

Increase meeting productivity

We have all been in meetings that take a lot of time with no visible breakthrough. Once you know how much it costs for someone to attend a meeting, you become more aware of everyone’s cost of the meeting. With these numbers, it’s easy for you to judge whether each attendee’s presence is vital to the agenda. That way, your meetings become smaller in number and more productive.

Visualize the value of your team's time

Time is the most crucial thing in a business, and visualizing/quantifying your team’s time dramatically improves productivity. With the cost, you will also know how much time is wasted during every meeting, giving you a chance to adjust accordingly.

Find alternate meeting strategies, such as asynchronous meetings

An asynchronous meeting discusses a topic that doesn't happen in real-time. Participants share their views through recorded videos, voice messages and text before the deadline. This can include meeting through a shared agenda software, recorded videos, voice messages, etc. It is essentially an alternate method to facilitate communication between employees. Knowing your meeting cost makes it easier to consider moving to asynchronous meetings. The benefits of asynchronous meetings include more flexibility in distributed teams around meeting time, increased documentation habits and greater meeting productivity.

What factors into the cost of a meeting?

There are different ways to calculate the cost of a meeting. The fastest is to use a meeting cost calculator. This tool will consider the following factors in providing the total cost of your meeting:

Participants

This is the number of people who will attend the meeting. You need to have the exact number of attendees for you to know how much it costs for you to hold their meeting every year.

Average salary

What is the average salary of the participants? If the attendees are from different pay brackets (often the case), you need to calculate their average annual wage for the best results.

Duration

How long are the meetings? You must account for the duration of the meetings to know how much time and money you spend each year of the specific meetings.

Cadence

How often do you hold the meetings? Is it weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually? The frequency of the meetings is one of the things to consider when calculating the cost of the meetings.

Tips to Optimize Your Meetings

After calculating the cost of your meetings, you are probably wondering how you can optimize your meetings for more efficiency. Below are four tips to help increase your meeting productivity.

Use the right tech stack

It is important to leverage tools and workflows for your meetings to run smoothly. These tools include a video conferencing app, note-taking software and a calendar app to schedule the meeting. These three tools are the baseline, some teams will choose to add additional tools such as scheduling apps or meeting transcription tools.

Prepare an agenda  

An unprepared meeting, or a meeting without an agenda, is not worth attending as it will not be productive. Companies should strive to instill this messaging within their meeting culture. Different types of meetings include different agendas. For example, a project kick-off meeting will not discuss the same talking points as a leadership one-on-one meeting. Consulting different meeting agenda examples can help the meeting organizer identify which topics are relevant to cover in the meeting.

Get leadership buy-in

Organizational change is rarely effective without a push from leadership. A top-down approach to changing organizations will help form different habits and workflows among employees.

Gather feedback

As habits, routines and workflows change, it is crucial to continuously gather feedback from different teams to understand how they adapt and appreciate the change. This will help inform if the desired impact is happening and its benefits.

Carolina Lopez

Carolina Lopez is a Marketing Coordinator at Fellow.app, a meeting productivity software and one-on-one meeting tool. She recently graduated from Carleton University and has a bachelor's in international business with a marketing concentration. Fellow.app is the top-rated meeting management software. The tool helps managers and their teams build effective meeting habits through collaborative agendas, action item tracking, and a library of expert-approved meeting templates. Thousands of organizations worldwide have implemented Fellow to create a culture of productive and engaging meetings.

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