Meetings – Why Waste Your Time

Do you have time to waste? Neither do I, or at least I do not want my time consumed by things that do not produce results. If your experience is like mine there is no bigger waste of time in my personal and professional life than non-productive meetings. Somewhere along the line it became the norm that we need to get a group of people together to get something done and that by getting a group of people together something will get done.

Lighthouse Logo CustomIt is my experience that unless there is a leader, a structure and purpose to the meeting it is really just a gathering and its only meaningful result will be to have another meeting. This happens all of the time in the business world at a significant price. The same thing can be observed in our private lives as well. I think some of the worst meetings I have ever been in were Home Owner Association or Church meetings where the bulk of the time is spent socializing and the meetings tend to lack leadership. The meetings took forever and nothing was really resolved.

As it turns out, a significant number of people agree that most of the meetings they attend are not effective. Per research published by Atlassian, they found the following:

1.     62 Meetings attended per month by most employees
2.     1/2 of the meetings were considered to be time wasted
3.     31 Hours spent in unproductive meetings over a month
4.     91% Reported daydreaming during the meeting
5.     73% Did other work in meetings
6.     47% Complained that meetings were the #1 time-waster at the office

Meetings are also expensive. Based on the average wage rate for Management across the US according to the US Department of Labor a 60 minute meeting for 10 people costs $470 in wages. A meeting of 100 people for 60 minutes costs $4,700 in wages. Most businesses have cost control measures in place for expenditures of these amounts and yet anyone can call a meeting. Do the meetings really return that amount to the bottom line? Well that is perhaps worthy of another blog discussion at another time.

So why have a meeting? That needs to be the very first question. Is it necessary to bring a group of people together at all? What is the purpose of the meeting, building consensus, making a decision, sharing information? Considering the findings and reputation of meetings, we really need to make sure there is not some other way to achieve our goal. If we conclude that a meeting is necessary, let’s at least make it as effective as possible.

So here are some tips for running an effective meeting: