Early 2017 update: A recent Atlassian study shows that the average office worker may be attending up to 62 hour-long meetings each month, half of which are considered useless. That’s roughly 31 wasted hours/person/month. So make sure you factor those hours in when going through the exercise below.
Original post from 2016:
The average meeting cost varies from company to company - factors like median salary, monthly rent, equipment and other hidden bills all play their part in driving a meeting’s costs higher and higher. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s only focus on personnel costs. It’s easier this way. Next, let us assume that a meeting is comprised of only 3 people working for the company, each earning a yearly wage of $25.000 (pre-taxes).
A normal meeting lasts about one hour, and since we have 3 staff members in the same meeting, the company has to pay for 3 hours of their time. At $25.000/year, 1 hour equals $24 - so the company must spend $72 for the meeting to take place (and that’s ruling out any other costs).
What do you care, your business model depends on meetings happening?
Actually, it doesn’t. Just like your project management tools don’t (or shouldn’t) depend on how many tasks you have to go through.
YAROOMS, despite being a meeting room booking system, depends on one thing - our clients conducting productive meetings. We charge very little per meeting (~$0.33) precisely because they tend to be so expensive.
Three things you can do to make the most out of your meetings
1. Hit Send
Big tech companies like LinkedIn have shaved hours off their meetings’ time with a simple tactic - slashing away presentations. Meetings should be reserved for important talks, decision-making and brainstorming sessions. By sending presentation over email, you can prime people for a more purposeful conversation, give them time to form opinions, arguments or even objections. They can become familiar with the subject and play an active role in the discussion rather than in the RPG they installed on their smartphones.
2. Trim down
Only involve those who need to be involved - the rest can pitch in after they receive the follow-up email with your notes. Meetings with more than 7 participants allow people to lay back and let others do the talking - in a big group, your input is less visible, so unless your opinion is vital, you’ll either be ignored or you will start doodling idly. “Someone else can pick up the slack, there are so many of us to choose from”.
3. Be strict
Enforce a time limit and a clear goal. Sometimes you need more hours to reach a positive outcome, but by forcing people to work on a deadline, you prevent them from giving in to distractions like “urgent” emails, incoming phonecalls and so on. If your meeting isn’t important enough that people turn off their phones, then maybe you could have solved the problem by email and a 10 minute chat.
There are many ways in which you can squeeze every drop of productivity from your time spent talking to others - you can read more about it on Harvard Business Review.