• Lluís M. Ventura

The real cost of a meeting

That may seem like an absurd question, but when you decide to call a meeting you should consider how much time (and money) you are investing in that meeting.

Have you noticed that a one-hour meeting with 8 people is a day of work? A full DAY of work! Then, add to that the time for preparation, moving to the meeting room (if you are not a small company, you know this time counts) and multiply it by eight. We could even add in the impact of interrupting your day and your focus! That’s a big amount of resources being consumed just for a regular meeting, isn’t it? And we all can agree that time is a finite asset. The time you make your employees invest in a meeting will prevent them from finishing other things.

As Vala Afshar says, you probably need to get approval on a $500 expense but can call a meeting with twenty people for an hour and everyone finds it perfectly normal.

But let’s do the math. So, to know the impact of a meeting, let’s take Mr. Afshar’s sentence as an example: A one-hour meeting with 20 people. Let’s say each employee’s hour costs $90. This means that the meeting time alone will cost your company two and a half days of work and $1,800. Let’s say that everyone uses 30 minutes to prepare the meeting or making post-meeting actions and that on average they use 15 minutes going and coming from their desks to the meeting room. 35 hours in total and $3150. Almost a week of work! Wow, that’s a huge investment. Your meeting had better be worth it!

This is why it’s so important, when you call a meeting, to be aware of the amount of time you are going to ask your employees or coworkers to focus their attention on that meeting. This is why many of these meetings should be an email. This is why you should think twice about who to invite. Or, at the very least, be very well prepared, have a clear purpose and agenda.

Consciousness and respect for others and their time are the essence of a healthy meeting culture and, therefore, a healthy company culture.

Do your numbers and calculate the real impact of meetings you organize each week. I’m pretty sure that now that you know how much you are investing in those meetings, you will think twice before calling them and take our previous post seriously: This meeting should have been an email!

Or, if you are holding these meetings, at least make sure they are useful for everybody in your company, that you are respectful of their time and that it is crucial for that meeting to be held. A good way to know this is by asking for feedback. With you can ask for feedback from the attendees to help improve your meetings.