Internal Meetings. Not Again!

Staff and internal meetings dominate business life.   They are essential to communication, and decision making. On this basis, it is imperative that meetings must be well run and productive.

However, most of them go nowhere, accomplish nothing and waste everyone’s valuable time.
Since they can’t be eliminated it’s necessary to minimize their number, their frequency and their length.
However, the biggest concern is the cost of the meetings. Let’s think that the person calling for a meeting (chairing) completes a form identifying all of the costs, and circulate it to all of the proposed attendees. The costing should include the cost of the physical facilities and the time (at a suitable billing rate) of each person attending. This time cost should also identify the preparation time that is expected (i.e. 2 hours preparation for the meeting per attendee) and the time for any follow-up after the meeting (i.e. meeting notes to be circulated, action taken, etc.). It should also include, if needed, costs for travel, and the person's travel time.
 All the above give a fairly good idea of what the meeting is actually costing.
Then, we need to look at the other side of the coin.
 What economic benefit will this meeting produce?
 What is it expected that the company will get out of the meeting?
 Is it an input for a project (then include it as a cost in the project)?
 Will this meeting produce economic results?
The cost of the meeting, and the economic value of the meeting, should go to the individual's department profit and loss center. It is the best way to give people feedback, and value what they are doing for the company.
This data sheet should be circulated together with the request for people to attend the meeting. As a result, they can form their own opinion as to the value for the meeting, or if they are just wasting time.
How long will it take for this? Is this time a waste of effort? If it is set up within a company, established billing rates will exist for each of the individuals. Costs will build up over a short period of time concerning travel time and expenses, and the cost for video conferencing, etc. It should take no more than 15 minutes to prepare. The agenda, topics for discussion, objectives, will take much more time. The return on those 15 minutes will be invaluable.
Certainly, meetings should not be eliminated. However, people should make the decision about having a meeting on a fully informed basis.
This would dramatically improve the performance of most companies.

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