Death By Meeting

Ever sit in a meeting and wonder how much it’s costing your company to have all of those people in attendance?  It’s staggering… yet most companies hold regular meetings where all of their salaried people get together to cover things that could be relayed through an email, video message, or sometimes, a text!

One of my consulting clients is a medium sized organization that holds A LOT of meetings.  They frequently request that I attend the meetings to share some information about the projects I’m working on, and I happily (and truthfully, grudgingly) comply.  I find that meetings are a great time for me to crank out an updated to-do list, prioritize what I need to get done, and brainstorm next steps.  Essentially, meetings allow me to re-focus my attention and energy on what needs to be done.

Once I get my to-do list knocked out, my email blasts scheduled, my personal must-do list from home, and play a couple of rounds of Words With Friends, my attention usually then comes around to how the hell much is this meeting costing the company?

If you take the meeting I attended today where a good solid 30 people were gathered, I assume that most of the folks in the room were making at least $40,000 a year.  Add in benefits and retirement packages and they are all easily at $50,000.  A person making $50k a year is making roughly $25 an hour.  ($50,000 / 2080 hours).  The meeting today was about 5 hours, so if you take 30 people x $25/hr x 5 hours, you’d get an approximate cost of the meeting coming in at: $3,750.  This doesn’t factor in the opportunity cost of the time lost, the mileage reimbursement, lunch catered in, or the fact that a day-long meeting on Thursday usually means a vacation day on Friday resulting in more work stoppage.

It’s crazy.

Die-hard meeting enthusiasts will tell me I’m crazy and you can’t break down the times and expenses like this, but if I were the owner of a company that regularly wasted thousands of dollars on meetings, you better believe they’d be clamped down on.

One of the best ideas I’ve ever heard was the company that did away with conference tables in exchange for high-top rounds that everyone stood at.   Because there were NO chairs in the room, the meetings lasted about 20 minutes tops.  Everyone came prepared with agendas and left with to-do’s and the work was accomplished… without spending thousands on wasted time.

I think being an entrepreneur and solopreneur for so long has given me an unusual grasp at time-wasting.  Believe me, I can waste time with the best of them, but much of my time wasting is scheduled.  I like to grab my guitar and play every now and again.  I enjoy watching certain videos on YouTube or tuning into a webinar by marketers that I model.  I’ll even sneak in a movie here and there.

But to sit in a room and listen to people drone on about stuff that has no applicability to my tasks, my income, or my interests is like going to a really bad high school play without knowing any of the actors.  At some point, you’re bound to ask yourself, “why the hell am I sitting here?”

Next time you’re called into a meeting, offer up this excuse:

“I would really like to know the outcome of the meeting, but due to a number of projects that I’m working diligently on, would you mind if I focus on completing those instead?  Nikki in HR said she’d take copious notes for me…”

I think your time is more valuable.  I know mine is.