The True Cost of Meetings

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Meetings consume critical time, which directly equates to money. Great meetings lead to achieving deliverables and advancing projects, while poor meetings result in frustration, lost time, and financial waste. Many employees complain about having too many meetings, ineffective meetings, and a lack of training on the key skills for running highly effective meetings.

A few years ago, I led a training session where I asked the group to rate their meeting performance. The sighs and frustration in the room were palpable. When I asked why their meetings were not positive, they identified three key reasons:

1. Lack of Purpose or Structured Agenda

All meetings must have a clear destination or desired outcome. This clarity is achieved before the meeting begins by utilizing a structured agenda. The agenda should outline a set of deliverables or outcomes. Without a clear purpose and plan, meetings become aimless and unproductive.

2. Excessive Frequency

Too many meetings can indicate underlying fear, a lack of autonomy, or cultural accountability issues. Conduct an audit of your meetings to determine if you have the right amount or perhaps too many. Reducing the number of unnecessary meetings can free up time for more productive work.

3. Undefined Roles

Attending a meeting without a defined role can make employees feel their time is wasted. Every agenda should list attendees and their roles, which could include participants, subject matter experts, facilitators, and note-takers. Clearly defined roles ensure that everyone knows their purpose and contribution to the meeting.

How to Run Effective Meetings

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Define what you want to achieve before the meeting. Share this with all attendees in advance.
  2. Create a Structured Agenda: Outline the topics, allocate time for each, and stick to the schedule.
  3. Invite the Right People: Only include those whose presence is essential for achieving the meeting’s objectives.
  4. Define Roles: Ensure everyone knows their role and contribution.
  5. Encourage Participation: Foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.
  6. Summarize and Follow-Up: Conclude with a summary of decisions made and actions to be taken. Follow up on these items to ensure accountability.

By addressing these common issues and implementing these strategies, you can transform your meetings from time-wasters into powerful tools for achieving your goals. How do you run effective meetings? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!