There’s good reason for these complaints, as research shows that executives spend an average of 23 hours per week in meetings. Evidence shows that over 33% of that time feels wasted to management — either as unnecessary or poorly used. With these numbers, over two months of an executive’s time is spent in meetings, per year. With an estimated cost of $1,000 per hour for several company managers to meet at one time, it’s not surprising that an estimated $37 billion is wasted, per year, on poorly planned meetings. Wasting time on irrelevant issues and a general lack of focus from employees are two key, telltale signs that you are not planning effective meetings. The cause of ineffective meetings is really no mystery.
Since coordinating activities are essential, setting effective meetings could be the difference between achievement and profitability or failure and dissatisfaction in your organization. Despite the critical need for effective meetings, only 25% of managers and executives have ever received formal training on how to conduct a meeting.
Most organizations that have conducted “meetings training” indicate significant improvements in the effectiveness of their meetings and an overall performance improvement. One reason why meetings training has such an impact is that meetings are a very public display of activities. The actions and behaviors of planning and conducting an effective meeting can be experienced by many people. When meeting training is conducted, the new vocabulary of meeting effectiveness moves through the organization quickly. Improved meeting behaviors socialize rapidly throughout groups and teams as individuals experience and talk about what’s happening in meetings. Expectations rise as more and more people experience the difference in good meeting behavior and the outcomes delivered. Soon, the entire organization understands what makes for an effective meeting, becomes aware of those practices happening in real time, and begins to gain accountability and make intentional adjustments along the way.
The hardest thing to understand about bad meetings is why they happen at all. Effective meetings contain strategies and tactics that are well known and straightforward. With awareness of the issues at hand and some basic formal training, meeting effectiveness can be dramatically improved and the organization can turn all that wasted time and energy into effective performance.