You can’t run an organization without meetings, but you could likely run it better with fewer, better meetings.
August 24, 2018 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You wake up and glance at your calendar. You notice that at 2 p.m., you have a business meeting. There’s an instant feeling of dread, and it’s still hours away.
Meetings have long been a necessary evil for businesses, but they can be stressful and time-consuming for everyone involved. Business meetings are also hurting your organization’s bottom line.
1. Business meetings waste time and money.
Eleven million: That’s how many meetings take place in America every day. That’s crazy, especially considering that the only reason business meetings are taking place is because there’s a belief that they’re vital to a company’s productivity and vibrancy.
The fact is, most of these meetings are unnecessary and actually a waste of time and money. As Renzo Costarella explains, most participants don’t need to be there. As a result, you have too many participants who aren’t providing value. Even worse, you’ve pulled them away from more important tasks they could be working on.
That wasted time is multiplied by the number of attendees. If you have eight attendees, and you have them in an hourlong meeting, you’ve wasted eight hours’ worth of salary. And that’s just for one meeting! So if each individual is making $100,000, that’s $800,000. That’s not taking into account the hours of preparation attendees devote every week to meetings — which is about 4 hours for status meetings.
According to one survey of business leaders, a whopping 92 percent of attendees are multitasking during a meeting — if they’re not, they’re daydreaming or dozing off. What’s the purpose of having a meeting when nobody is engaged? And those tangential thoughts can easily lead to derailments; most meetings don’t have a formal structure. It’s easy for unstructured meetings to go off track, which means they could run longer than planned — decreasing productivity and increasing the cost.
Overall, businesses waste an astounding $37 billion annually on unproductive meetings.
Related: Why Elon Musk Hates Meetings
2. They require extra resources.
You may not think about it at first, but meetings require additional resources. For example, if you have a lunch meeting once or twice a week with your team, you’re looking at a couple of hundred dollars per week. Even if you have a brief morning or afternoon meeting, there may be an expectation to provide snacks and drinks.
You obviously have to provide your team with refreshments, and I’m a big proponent of lunch meetings. However, you have to take these additional costs into consideration when planning a meeting. Instead of a weekly status meeting, you might be able to push it to every other week or even make it a monthly occurrence.
3. There is opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost is, perhaps, the biggest cost of meetings. Every minute that each team member spends in a meeting is a minute that he or she could be spending on something more important.
For example, your team isn’t bringing in any cash to your organization during your weekly two-hour sales meeting. How does that help your bottom line?
4. Meetings kill creativity and innovation.
I don’t know about you, but I find that being stuck inside all day behind a desk isn’t very inspiring. I often have to take a break and go for a walk or work elsewhere for an hour or two. Even worse is trying to brainstorm ideas with colleagues who aren’t engaged — remember that most people aren’t participating in meetings.
5. They’re just not productive.
Executive consider 67 percent of meetings to be failures, with 27 percent of workers admitting that meetings are the main reason for inefficiency and lack of productivity. And it’s easy to see why when nine out of 10 people are daydreaming and 73 percent are doing other things.
What’s interesting, however, is that this is also the case with virtual team members. That’s because remote workers can’t stay engaged because they can’t pick up on other participants’ body language.
Take the time to identify whether your meetings are hurting your bottom line as well as how to run a productive meeting. You could be losing not just time and money, but also the engagement and focus of your employees. And that’s a cost too high for most companies to bear.