5 min read
Meetings are arguably one of the most expensive overhead costs in any organization, and unproductive meetings have an alarming effect on the bottom line.
$399 billion = the cost of ineffective meetings in the U.S.!
19 million ineffective meetings cost companies in the US a whopping $399 billion in 2019 , according to a recent survey from Doodle, the popular meeting scheduling tool.
That figure speaks for itself- we need to improve the ROI of business meetings.
Meetings might be costing you, but they are important and obviously you can't do away with them. Instead, you have to figure out how you can make them more efficient and productive, and adjust meeting agendas. This will help increase your ROI on the money and time you and your high level employees spend on meetings.
The CEO's Guide To Running Produtive Meetings
The same way you increase ROI in all of your business's operations: cutting costs, increasing productivity, and focusing on the highest value tasks.
How to Cut the Cost of Meetings
Number-one problem: meetings are expensive. Naturally, the first way you can improve your ROI on time spent in meetings is to cut the overall cost of meetings.
Now, if you've been serving freshly baked pastries from a local artisan baker and everyone in meeting attendance really appreciates them, you don't have to lose the fancy meeting snacks or trade-in your high-quality coffee beans for a cheaper alternative. This kind of cost-cutting could actually backfire by bumming everyone out, demotivating your employees, and hurting your workplace culture.
Instead, we recommend cutting costs in three ways:
1. Reduce Time
First, put a hard-and-fast time limit on your meetings. Your employee time and lost productivity are by far the biggest expenses incurred during each meeting.
The longer you keep everyone from earning money for your business, the more it costs you, and time spent in meetings tends to creep. The average time spent in meetings has been increasing by 8% to 10% every year since 2000 .
Even if it seems like your meetings are short, you and your employees are probably spending more time in them than you realize.
Senior executives average 28 hours and middle managers average 21 hours spent in meetings each week, according to a time management study performed by the analytics provider VoloMetrix .
Whether your middle and senior managers work 40, 60, or 80 hours a week, twenty-some hours of that still adds up to be a huge percentage of the most expensive portion of your labor costs.
2. Lower Attendance
You've cut the length of your meetings, now you can start cutting out the people who don't actually need to attend.
For the sake of your bottom line, it's worth spending a few minutes when preparing a meeting agenda to consider the individuals in your company who really need to attend to contribute to the meeting content and/or to hear the meeting content. You can either determine this yourself or send an agenda around before the meeting to allow your employees to decide.
To ensure you're getting the most out of your labor costs during meetings, make meetings mandatory to everyone only when absolutely necessary. Most of the time, you should select a few individuals for whom the meeting is mandatory and make it optional or a do-not-attend for everyone else.
Only including people for whom a meeting is absolutely essential will not only save you money, but it will also change your employees' perspective on meetings. They'll start to view meetings as useful and essential to their jobs – rather than wasted time and headaches served with a side of day-old donuts.
3. Focus on Essentials
Stick to the agenda.
Other than, perhaps, a quick five-minute personal catch-up scheduled at the beginning of a meeting, only discuss topics in a meeting that are absolutely essential to discuss in person. Anything that can be shared before the meeting or discussed outside of a meeting should be handled outside of the meeting.
Getting in the habit of distributing meeting materials, slides, agenda topics, and more will save you time and help you lead more productive meetings.
How to Increase Meeting Productivity
When putting together executive meeting agendas, you should be focused on structuring the meeting in a way that maximizes the productivity of the meeting. Like cutting costs, you can increase meeting productivity using the same principles you apply to your business: streamlining operations and setting goals for each meeting.
You can streamline your meeting process by distributing materials in advance, scheduling the meeting for a time of day when attendees will still feel fresh and alert, and make sure that everyone has the tools and ability to attend the meeting.
If meeting virtually, test all of your technology ahead of time and ask your attendees to do so as well. As a buffer for technical difficulties, schedule virtual meetings for 5 or 10 minutes before you actually want to begin.
Next, when putting together an agenda, start by clearly defining the purpose or goal for the meeting and outlining your strategy for achieving that goal. Consider what you want to accomplish with your team while you're in the meeting, you can accomplish your goal, and who needs to participate.
The Meeting Agenda Items With the Biggest ROI
Once you've set a goal, created your agenda, and are ready to hold the meeting, be ready to do the work in the meeting. This means focusing on the action items and problems that require all of your top brains to be together to solve. Then work together on solving the problems during the meeting.
To focus on meeting items with the biggest ROI, you need to shift your perspective on business meetings. If you've been holding or attending ineffective meetings, then you're accustomed to an inefficient meeting structure that isn't working.
Never hold a meeting to simply assign tasks to be done individually at a later time. While it's okay to end a meeting with a few action items, simply holding a meeting solely to assign tasks is holding a meeting that could have taken place in an email, instead.
So, How Do You Structure a Leadership Meeting?
How do you structure an executive meeting to meet a time limit and increase productivity?
You can structure your meetings with a fairly simple structure that begins with a five-minute personal check-in. Although you want to be saving time, this step is important in maintaining workplace culture and positive morale – especially if your company still has people working remotely.
Next, as the CEO, discuss a quick bird's-eye view of the business KPIs. This should be followed by updates on progress made toward goals from your leadership team. Save issues for the next part.
Where there's good news, there's usually bad news, too. Next, it's time to discuss issues, raise questions, and make decisions for overcoming challenges. This part should be the real meat of your meeting – where you resolve issues, get alignment on the strategy, and determine what other work still needs to be done (action items to assign).
Finally, the meeting should end with any final decision-making, a recap of questions left unanswered or problems that have yet to be solved or delegated, and communicate who needs to do what next.
Check it out!🎙️ In this Path To Profit Podcast episode, GrowthForce CEO Stephen King sits down with Douglas Ferguson, President at Voltage Control, to discuss how leaders can use meetings to increase the productivity of their people and the profitability of their business.
Stay Focused on Meeting Efficiency for a Better ROI and Stronger Bottom Line
When planning your next executive meeting agenda or leadership meeting, keep it short, productive, and focused. Always remember that if your meetings aren't helping you make money, then you might as well spend an hour throwing money out your office window.
Remember: In order to truly measure the effectiveness of meetings, make sure you have a systemized process of measuring employee performance. If you’re not doing so already, consider adjusting your management reporting and KPIs to monitor productivity and task-related performance. If your meetings clearly enhance the way people work together, you should notice a spike in productivity.