If you’re looking for ways to reduce business costs, have you ever stopped to think about the cost of ineffective business meetings? Neither had we until recently and what we found was staggering. Research shows employees attend, on average, 62 meetings a month. And half of those meetings are considered a waste of time, which equates to an estimated $37B a year lost in wasted salaries across all sectors in the USA.

We all know meetings are inevitable unless of course you’re a team of one. Without them the business can’t function, departments aren’t aligned and consensus decision-making, brainstorming and projects are nonexistent. The only real answer to mitigating the excess cost of meetings is to employ tactics to reduce time waste.

ANOTHER meeting?! Are you sure?

There’s nothing worse than wasting time on something that isn’t required or doesn’t need your expertise or input. The feelings associated with having your time wasted is a major de-motivator for teams and robs not only the hour or so spent in an unnecessary meeting but causes a ripple effect before and after as those team members struggle with having their time hi-jacked away from the other work tasks.

Before hitting “send” on your next meeting invite, double check the attendee lists against the agenda by answering this: What is the meeting accomplishing?

  • Brainstorming concepts
  • Project status
  • Are decisions being made (if so who is impacted)?
  • Or maybe it’s something else 

When getting creative, think big then trim

When any type of project is in the ideation phase, especially if the project is creative in nature, it’s important to gather ideas from all available sources even if they sound silly, too big, or impossible. Most teams aren’t desperate for ideas but many teams don’t offer up their thoughts readily so asking for them and valuing all the input is key. Before the meeting, send an agenda and if you want people to come with ideas, let them know ahead. The, gather those concepts, on the whiteboard and invite the group to combine and rejigger elements from different ideas until one cohesive concept emerges.

Learn what works best in your unique situation

Understanding motivators and respecting preferences of attendees makes for great leadership. Some of us are thrive in response to fire drills while others require more planning and structure with clear expectations laid out. If your team is diverse in this way, it’s important to learn their style, how they give and receive information and when (what time of day) they are most effective. Taking the time to find these answers generates mutual respect and ensures you have team buy in at an individual level so they will arrive better prepared with questions, thoughts, and input.

Timing is crucial to reduce business costs in meetings

Short meetings work best. Try to keep to 30-minutes or less. Short time frames help attendees stay on topic, leave no time for sidebars conversations, and create a sense of urgency to find and get to the point quickly. Thinking about meeting length alongside attendee necessity and logistics is key in fostering a productive outcome.

For instance, many companies employ remote workers so, being cognizant of their most productive times is helpful. And other time considerations come into play too such as avoiding meetings just prior to lunch when people can be distracted by hunger or towards the end of the day when they’re focused on wrapping up. Studies show the most effective meeting times are early morning and after lunch.

The last thing you want to do is schedule a decision-making meeting when the team is tired or hungry. Doing so will invite the natural human response of foregoing any extra consideration that requires thought processes to make snap judgments and land on the simplest possible decision fast. None of which will be good for the project.


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