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The Real Truth About Meetings

by Ryan D. | 5 min read

The Real Truth About Meetings

Is your boss having you come in early, take time off your work or stay late for another meeting that could have been an email or memo? Get this, the average junior employee attends eight meetings each week, and a VP director attends 17 meetings per week. Well, I don't know about you, but I can use those hours to improve productivity. We joke about how painful these meetings are, but the pain has real consequences for team and organization finances and productivity.

Now don't get me wrong; meetings are vital in making any organization function like a well-oiled machine. If well-executed, a meeting can get employees to feel include, up to date on the organization's current affairs, and encourage each team member to contribute. A productive meeting establishes alignment, speeds decision making, encourages creativity and innovation, and keeps the feedback loop active.

Since 2000, meetings have increased by 40%. Unfortunately, when it comes to meetings, quantity does not translate to quality. 47% of employees complained that meetings are a waste of time, and 45% of employees agreed that the overwhelming number of meetings is utter mismanagement of time and human resources. Sometimes the meetings are not the problem; the issue is the inefficient use of the time.

This is Why Meetings Are a Waste of Time and Money

Bad meetings do not happen by accident; here are a few reasons why your meetings are boring and unproductive.

Holding unnecessary meetings

At the risk of sounding redundant, if the meeting can be an email or a memo, then it should be an email or a memo. Poorly trained managers and employees are more likely to call unnecessary meetings.

1. Poor planning

Managers waste a substantial amount of time searching for a place to hold a meeting scheduled several days earlier. Employees will also spend a ridiculous amount of time getting ready for the meetings, an average of an hour and 9 minutes. Poor timekeeping among employees can also delay the meeting a further half-hour.

2. Poor time management

A productive meeting has every minute planned out. Each agenda has a specific amount of time-slotted, after which a new agenda is picked up. Scheduling a meeting and making a 'grocery list' of topics you hope to tackle during the meeting will lead to an unproductive meeting. Statistics show that nine minutes out of every meeting are wasted setting up.

3. Poor communication

Management should share the agenda of a meeting with the participants before the meeting; this way, everyone gets a chance to prepare. The items on the agenda should be relevant to everyone attending the meeting. A direr mistake is to forget to invite an employee to the meeting and call them at the last minute. That is a recipe for an unproductive meeting.

Communication during meetings is also vital. Did you know that 39% of employees are daydreaming in an average meeting, 91% of employees fall asleep, 73% multitask, 96% miss meetings, and 57% think that low attendance costs the company. If meetings are kept interesting, employees are kept engaged, and communication improves. A creative way to improve communication is to encourage feedback from attending employees.

4. No Value Addition

People come to meetings ready to answer questions and probably defend their decisions or performance. Very few people attend meetings ready to contribute and add value. LinkedIn highlights Parkinson's law in meetings. Team members will stretch their presentation to fit the time that was allocated for them. Employees should strive to take as little time as possible, so meetings end early or on time, saving time.

5. Status Updates

Corporate meetings are often about status updates. The Clarizen/Harris survey shows that 40 Percent of employees find status update meetings are a waste of time, while 70 percent of employees state that these meetings do not help them accomplish their daily duties.

6. Start Late and Run Overtime

When meetings lack clear goals and objectives, they often start late and run overtime. As the saying goes, time is money. Every minute that employees waste attending meetings costs the company productivity. Because of the amount of time wasted, 71% of meetings are unproductive (Check out our meeting calculator to see the real cost of your meetings).

7. You Have the Wrong People Attending the Meeting

John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything." The wrong people attending a meeting will take the meeting in a completely different direction than intended. This is because those in attendance will push agendas that best suit them and not necessarily for the organization's good.

Parting shot

Wondering how to have productive meetings? Here are a few pointers

  • Consistently end early
  • Do follow-ups
  • Document actions
  • Encourage participation
  • Start on time
  • Invite the right people
  • Keep the meetings short and well sweet

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