How Much Does That Meeting Cost?
By Tamara Martfeld
Most the people I know recognize many meetings as a waste of time. What I find interesting is that some of those same people are meeting happy – they want to meet on anything and everything that comes up. They believe that meetings held by other people are a big waste of time, and they believe that their own meetings are productive. One good way to determine if a meeting is worthwhile is to determine the cost of the meeting and consider that cost when deciding if the meeting is the best forum for the task.
How do you determine the cost of the meeting? Look at the salaries of the individuals attending the meeting and the length of the meeting. For example, if you have one person who makes $20 per hour, three people who make $15 per hour, and one person who makes $10 per hour, and the meeting is one hour long, the minimum cost of the meeting is $75 (20 + 15 + 15 + 15 + 10). This is not including any materials which are used in the meeting or handed out as part of the meeting.
Is it worth $75 to inform everyone that a simple procedure has been updated? For something that simple, an e-mail might be more appropriate. A copy of the new procedure can be attached with a contact listed for any questions.
Is it worth $75 to inform everyone that the company is going in a different direction? I would say yes as there are likely to be many questions and having everyone in the same room may prevent destructive rumors.
Really look at the topic versus the cost and you will find that many meetings can be eliminated. You will likely find that it is more cost-effective to send an e-mail or save the information for a later meeting (as opposed to meeting on one or two topics).
Another way to reduce the cost of a meeting is to shorten it. Most calendars are set up in half-hour increments, so meeting tend to be scheduled in those same half-hour increments. Instead of an hour, schedule a meeting for 45 minutes. Instead of a half-hour meeting, schedule the meeting for 15-20 minutes. The theory here is that the meeting will generally fill the time allotted for it regardless of whether the entire time is truly needed. You will be surprised at how much information can be covered in the shorter period of time. When starting this alternate scheduling, make sure you have an agenda and stick to it. Of course, I am sure you already know that you should always have an agenda for any meetings you hold.
If you are the person who is calling many meetings a week, try some of the methods above to see if you can cut down on the number of meetings. Remember that it is not just the cost of the meeting that is important. If people are in a meeting, they are not completing work. If the meeting is not productive, it is detrimental in more ways than just the cost. Those attending your meetings will silently thank you.
Have a wonderful holiday season!