Do Your Meetings Cost Too Much?

Rita J. King
June 11, 2017

Meetings have a real cost and should contribute real value. Science House helps companies profit from their meetings.

After facilitating and attending countless meetings for our clients at Science House and working with many companies throughout our careers, we realized that meetings have problems that need to be solved. So we did.

Our framework, Model Meetings™, was created to deliver more clarity and focus to meetings. It starts with eight principles. One of those is the focus of this post:

Meetings have a real cost and should contribute real value.

This is something many people simply don’t think about when inviting just one more person to a meeting--especially if that someone isn’t really sure why they were invited or what they can contribute. Think back to the last time you needed to purchase something for your job such as a new laptop computer. You probably had to work through the purchasing department to get the company approved and discounted laptop, and make sure you got your purchase request signed by your manager. That laptop probably had a tracking number assigned and the cost landed on your department P&L or capital budget.

Contrast that with the process for calling a meeting.

You invite ten people for a one-hour meeting. But unlike the laptop purchase, you don’t have to go through the purchasing department. In fact, you probably didn’t need to get any approval at all. And once the meeting was finished, did the hourly cost of the attendees show up as an expense to your department? In most organizations, the answer is no.

When there is “no cost” for a resource people naturally consume more of it.

The result of this is that people tend to schedule lots of meetings and invite lots of people. It becomes easy to invite a few extra people. At your year end review your boss probably asks you about projects that you have accomplished. But does she ever ask about how many people you invited to meetings? Probably not.

On the other side of the equation, what are the revenues generated by meetings?

This sounds like a strange question, but all activities of an organization should strive to add value. In business, investments are made in order to generate revenue. For example, investments in advertising are made in order to increase sales. If sales revenue rises more than the cost of the advertising, you may be adding to the bottom line. But if sales revenue does not increase by at least the cost of the advertising, it may have been a poor investment.

The same thinking should be applied to meetings.

The investment made (i.e. the time of each participant) needs to be compared to the output/assets that are generated by the meeting. Meetings with output more valuable than the cost are generating a “meeting profit” for the organization.

If you’d like to discuss how to put Model Meetings™to work for your company, I am happy to discuss. Even just thinking about the real cost of meetings, however, can shift your thinking on this very time and resource heavy problem.

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