Are unnecessary meetings costing you money?

People in a meeting room


Are unnecessary meetings costing you money? According to the latest research by online meeting platform Doodle, 24 billion hours will be lost to pointless meetings over the next year. Professionals spend, on average, 2 hours a week in unnecessary meetings and more than a third consider it to be the highest cost to their company.

Let’s take a look at how you can make better use of meetings and ensure they are time and cost effective.

Face to face

76% of professionals indicate that they prefer face to face meetings. This is because it is easier to understand other people’s opinions and come to an agreed way forward, crucial to making important decisions in a timely manner.

While face to face meetings may not always be possible, especially if you have international colleagues to consult with, you can still have your UK team in the meeting in a room together. Try to avoid everyone dialing in from a different location.


Length of meeting

The more time a meeting takes, the more it is costing you. Doodle found that the majority of meetings last for 30 – 60 minutes, however those who are more senior in a company often find themselves in longer meetings.

Make sure that you keep control of the meeting, have an effective chair who can move things along and only make the session as long as it needs to be. Try to avoid people waffling or repeating topics that have already been discussed or agreed.


How many meetings

British professionals spend the most time in meetings every week, with 30% spending 5 or more hours of their working week in meetings.

Clearly this could have a significant impact on your staff’s productivity and your businesses profitability. Look at whether a meeting is essential or if there is another way to deal with the issue that is more time effective.


When to hold your meeting

70% of professionals prefer meetings to be scheduled between 8am and 12pm. This allows people to feel fresher and be less distracted by issues that have come up throughout the day. You also reduce the instance of lateness, as individuals have not had as much time to get behind and be playing catch up, so are more likely to be punctual to the meeting.


What’s most important

It’s clear from the research that the most important thing to a successful meeting is to have a clear agenda and objectives.

Set your agenda ahead of time and make sure all participants have a copy before the meeting, with a clear understanding of what the session will focus on achieving. For all attendants to prepare effectively ensure that everyone has all the paperwork necessary and you are not wasting time in a meeting handing information out and waiting for people to read and analyse that information.

Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi, Associate Professor of Organisational Behavior and Leadership at Imperial College London commented on what makes a good meeting:

“The secret of a successful and time-efficient meeting is preparation. The agenda mustn’t be too long. Otherwise, there’s a risk of spending too much time on the first items, and later items are rushed. The agenda should be circulated well in advance, including the goals of what is expected from the meeting, and specific detail on the subjects and time allocation.”


Cost of poor organisation

All professionals who took part in the research stated that they felt poorly organised meetings were a waste of money, and 26% believe that this has a direct impact on their client relationships.

Poorly organised and cancelled meetings pose the most significant time drain to UK businesses. 40% of employees believe that this is the most substantial threat to their company’s time.

44% of professionals report that poorly organised meetings mean that they do not have enough time to do the rest of their work. With other outcomes being that unclear actions lead to confusion, a loss of focus on projects and irrelevant attendees causing slow progress.

In the UK alone this is costing businesses £45.49 billion.

Gabriele Ottino, CEO of Doodle, stated:

“Everyone knows the pains of boring, pointless meetings. They happen every day, but the cumulative effect is frankly shocking! If you aren’t looking to improve the efficiency of meetings at your organisation, you’re wasting an enormous amount of money and time.”


Key points

  • Hold face to face meetings where possible
  • Morning meetings are more productive and preferred
  • Analyse whether a meeting is essential and ensure they are no longer than required
  • Ensure you have the correct people at the meeting and you are not wasting time by inviting staff who are not needed
  • Set a clear objective and agenda ahead of time
  • Have a time allowance for each item on your agenda and stick to it

You may also want to implement the following to improve the efficiency of your meeting:

  • Do not have food and beverages supplied as time is wasted due to people eating and making drinks. If you do have to have a lunchtime meeting, ask people to bring their lunch and drinks in with them rather than catering.
  • Ensure any actions taken from the meeting are clearly noted and disseminated to the attendees promptly so everyone knows what is expected of them and by when.
  • Start and end promptly – a key to being able to do this is to ensure that your agenda is realistic and not too ambitious with what you wish to cover in the meeting.
  • If there is technology needed for the meeting, test it out ahead of time. Do not waste the meeting trying to get a presentation to run or connect to an overseas client. Book the room for 15 minutes before the start time and ensure everything is set up correctly.


Further information

If you found this information useful you may also want to check out the following:

Time is money

Building a succession plan for success

What happens to your business when you go on holiday?

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