Making Meetings Matter – When Half-Time Equals Double Time

Training Tab

Do you wonder where productivity is leaking from your organization? 


Every day, millions of professional people get pulled into meetings, where nearly two-thirds of those meetings begin without an agenda.* 

Wait. What?!

Leading a meeting without a well-thought-out agenda, or a clearly-stated desired outcome will waste the time of everyone sitting at the table.  How much does that cost a company?  Just add up the approximate hourly wage of each individual attending.  

If you have five people who make an average of $60,000 per year, every hour of wasted time costs the company just over $144 each hour.  If each professional attends an average of 61.8 meetings and half are considered a waste of time, the same organization in our illustration is losing almost $22,000 per month in wasted meeting time.  This doesn’t even consider the lost opportunity costs for each unavailable professional. 

Can your organization afford to meet and waste time?  If not, we have good news.  There are some very simple steps leaders can take to immediately see a return on the investment of meeting time. 

The great news is that none of these steps should take more than 90 seconds. 

Step 1- Cut Your Allotted Meeting Time in Half 

It will not only make you popular, but it will also mobilize the team to be more focused on achieving a result. Three out of four employees (73%) admit that they bring other work to meetings. Participants of shorter meetings don’t have the luxury of taking their attention from the issues that are immediately in front of them.    

“I sit on a board of directors, and our meetings would wander aimlessly for more than 3 hours.  As soon as we put a maximum time limit of 2 hours, people were more engaged, and we accomplished a lot more each time.”                                                  — Andy McClure- Sherpa Business Development 

When everyone is hyper-focused, there is less time to venture down rabbit trails or on philosophize about things that don’t matter. People use the allotted time wiser and participants actually listen more attentively, knowing that a singular distraction can cause them to miss an important part of the discussion. 

Additionally, shorter meetings require better preparation by the leader. Leaders need to think through achieving the desired end-result in limited time, which leads to the next insight. 

Step 2- No Agenda, No Meeting  

Quit allowing meetings to meander while hoping your conversation will land on something meaningful.  Meeting leaders need to have a proclaimed purpose or desired outcome stated at the beginning of a meeting. Otherwise, you leave attendees guessing at what their engagement should be.  If attendees aren’t clear, they will mentally check out, do other work, look at their phones, or just endure the meeting.  

A stated result could sound like: 

The purpose of today’s meeting is to: 

…to discuss where our marketing strategy is failing and consider new options. 

…figure out a better way to get incoming calls answered in less than two rings. 

…decide what equipment is most needed and what the parameters are for purchasing. 

…to have each team share an update on their projects and communicate what to expect as they move forward. 

…to discuss a potential acquisition of a competitor and decide if we want to take the next steps in the process. 

The good news is that your meetings can improve immediately by implementing these two simple strategies.  Most meetings should be designed to draw out the best ideas and insights from attendees.  With better quality meetings, your organization will save money, avoid destructive strategies and increase overall engagement among your employees.  

For a great tool to lead effective meetings, check out the 90 Second System to Get Stuff Done.  It includes an entire section devoted to leading quality meetings.  You will be able to prepare for great gatherings in only 90 seconds by following the prompts.  Additionally, each page is designed with simple triggers to keep your discussion on track, clarify expectations and set-up opportunities for quality follow-through and accountability.  For more information, click here. 

*Source: CBS News - Wolf Management Consultants Feb 2012 

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: