I was once in a 3-hour meeting where I said three words. I can’t even claim great importance for those three words because I merely confirmed what the CEO previously said. That 3-hour meeting had eight people but only two people spoke for the majority of the time. That single meeting had a cost north of $10,000 but no one noticed.
I don’t have to tell my executive clients that meetings can be a waste of time. They feel it every single week. I have seen all kinds of estimates for how long people spend in meetings. For you, it could be 5, 10 or 20 hours. Maybe the bulk of your meetings are in-person or primarily over video. It doesn’t matter because these meetings are costing the company serious money. Here’s how much.
Let’s make some napkin assumptions based on the latest research and my experience with over 100 companies.
- Average Hourly Rate: $150
- 15 Hours Per Week in Meetings
- 3X Opportunity Cost of Time
This means that a meeting of 10 people that goes for 2 hours has a direct cost of $3,000 and $9,000 if you factor in the opportunity cost. After all, meetings are used to decide what work needs to happen when it comes to growing the business. If someone spends an hour in a meeting, that is one hour that is not being spend helping the customer.
An average executive who spends 15 hours per week in meetings is personally spending just under $7,000 in meetings. I’m even using conservative numbers as the average hourly rate of a CEO is closer to $350 and their opportunity cost is even higher.
Regardless of how you slice it, meetings are an expensive activity. I’m not claiming that all meetings can be removed but they can certainly be optimized. It’s too easy to schedule a meeting for 60 minutes and drag multiple people into it. The costs I mentioned above are typically hidden but they have an effect nonetheless.
Next time you get together for a meeting, imagine that everyone has to physically contribute money into a big pile in the middle of the room. Then light the pile of money on fire. Are you comfortable doing that for every meeting?