Want to add more time to your day? Run better project meetings

boring meeting - consensus-thumbEveryone, it seems, hates meetings. The only thing worse than being invited to a meeting is not being invited to a meeting (because then people feel left out, or they fear they’re going to get laid off!).

In a recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources, and as reported in Baseline.com,  50% of the people surveyed said a glut of meetings is their biggest waste of time and that meetings consume 37% of their day. Additionally, I read a while ago that meetings are terrible stress inducers. Why? Because as we’re sitting in these mind-numbing “get togethers,” the work is just piling up on our desks from the last meeting we attended.

Rather than just reiterate the survey results here, I’ve rewritten them in the form of seven recommendations for conducting meetings. If done well, ostensibly you’ll save 25% of your time, and everyone else’s time around the conference table (virtual or otherwise).

  1. Have a clear agenda or purpose for the meeting.
  2. Divide the agenda into sections each with its own start and stop times.
  3. Start the meeting on time.
  4. Stick to the agenda. Don’t get sidetracked or diverted by others.
  5. Invite only those people who have a clear reason for attending. Resist the urge to invite others who you think may have an interest, or to be nice, or for some CYA reason.
  6. Dismiss participants during the meeting if they don’t need to be there for the next topics. You’re not being rude; they’ll thank you for it, believe me.
  7. End the meeting on time.

Sure, there are other best practices for meetings, but according to the survey just by practicing these tips can save a lot of time and money. How much…let’s do some math.

Say you have 6 people, including yourself, attend a one hour meeting. Assume 5 people earn $95,000 per year and you earn $125,000/year. That’s $45.67/hr for five of the attendees and $60.10 for you. Add these up and you get $288.45. However, we have to gross that up by 33% to cover everyone’s indirect costs. So now we have a total cost for the meeting of $383.64. This number doesn’t include the opportunity cost of everyone working on something else instead of attending this meeting; or, the time it takes for people to get ready for the meeting and then return to work. If we take 25% of $383.64 we can realize a savings of $95.91.

That’s not a lot of money really, but think about how many meetings people attend day in and day out. Think about the fact that people are spending 37% of their time in meetings. The real money comes in the multiplier affect of meeting after meeting after meeting.

Do this. Look at your calendar for the last month. Add up the number of hours you’ve been in meetings and do the math and see just how much it cost the company to have you sit there. Also, the next time you attend a meeting do the math on that meeting’s cost while someone is going on and on and on about something completely irrelevant to why you’re all there in the first place. You will see just how much is being spent on these kinds of gatherings.

But the most important thing to notice is the look on the faces of the attendees in these meetings. How many are really engaged at any one time? How many really even need to be there? How many times are they peering down at their mobile devices checking their email, chat, or text messages?


Sadly though, what they’ll be reading is an invitation to the next meeting!


Join me for IIL’s International Project Management Day on November 6, 2014. I will be presenting a keynote address:

About this Keynote: The governance model is the “engine room” of successful portfolio management. In this informative session, Mr. Ward will identify and provide guidance on answering the 6 key questions you need to ask to develop a pragmatic governance model for your organization.

Registration is free and you can earn up to 12 PDUs. Register here.




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