The real cost of bad meetings
Meetings, in of themselves, have great value. And they will cost something, there’s no denying that.

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Bad meetings. We’ve all had them, and we know what they look like. However, do we all know what they cost? We’re not just talking about precious time spent in a meeting, we’re talking about the actual, physical cost. Chances are, you haven’t sat down before and gone over the figures. So, let’s take a look together and see what the real cost of bad meetings looks like.

We’ll start with a regular, run of the mill, one-hour meeting. To make this simple, we’ll focus on meetings held in the office. And we’ll make our numbers moderate too, we don’t want to scare you too much.


Basic costs

If we’re basing this on an average salary of, say, $50,000 a year, that’s about $25 an hour per employee. With five to ten attendees, the initial meeting cost is at $125-$250. However, we’re not finished, there are a few other factors we need to take into consideration.


Typically, attendees need to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early so the meeting can start on time. We also need to account for goodbyes, chatting and so on at the end of the meeting. There’s another 10 minutes. That’s another twenty minutes to half an hour extra, which equates to another $60-$125 added to our initial meeting cost.


If the meeting itself runs over by, say, 15 to 20 minutes, we’re looking at another $40-$80. Now we’re at $225-$455. We’ve kept the numbers simple and realistic, and by now you might think the costs aren’t too bad. But we’re talking about bad meetings here. Meetings that did not accomplish their goal.

So, the meeting did not accomplish its goal, what now? Well, now we probably need another meeting! That’s right, for every bad meeting, the initial cost is just the starting point. What if the attendees need another one, two, or even three meetings to accomplish their goal of the initial meeting? You could be looking at $675 to a whopping $1,365! For a task that could have been accomplished in one solid meeting for a max of $185-$375.


The extra bits

That’s not the end, because we’ve just been talking about attendees pay. Maybe you want to keep them alert and so you buy them donuts and coffee. Perhaps the attendees have to travel, and maybe even stay overnight somewhere. Now the numbers are really stacking up!


The solution

The solution is obvious—ensure there are no bad meetings. But how do you do that? You need to ask what is happening in meetings that wastes time—and money? The key things that can add extra costs to meetings are:

  • The meeting starting late, because people are late
  • The attendees not staying focused on the goal of the meeting
  • People getting off track with idle conversation


Meetings, in of themselves, have great value. And they will cost something, there’s no denying that. However, what we want is to ensure the meetings achieve their goals the first time. This way we maximise on the initial cost and ensure there are no unnecessary costs. Meetings that add value, brainstorm effective solutions, get the work done and move the project forward are great investments. Those that don’t, aren’t.


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