Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meeting ROI: Seven Steps to Productive Meetings

What time is it? Time for your next meeting? Maybe you just came out of one. Or maybe you’re in one right now and you have no idea what’s being discussed. If so, now would be a good time to look up and nod. OK—continue reading.

Chances are you spend a good deal of your day in meetings. Yes, they cost time. But have you ever stopped to figure out how much money they cost? Think of one of your recent meetings. Jot down the 
  • Number of participants 
  • Hours spent preparing for, attending, and then reporting on the meeting 
  • Average hourly salary for participants plus 50% for labor burden. 
Multiply the three numbers above to find out the approximate cost of the meeting. It’s not cheap. 

Good meetings identify challenges, speed communication, and spawn solutions. Bad meetings waste time and discourage—even alienate— participants. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow these simple guidelines for conducting a good, productive meeting.

  1. Decide if the potential results are worth the cost. Do this before you schedule the meeting. 
  2. Identify the fewest participants needed to accomplish the goal. 
  3. Draft an agenda. Include the goal of the meeting, items (with start/stop times for each), and presenters. Distribute the agenda (use e-mail) before a scheduled meeting to allow participants to prepare for it. Even if it's an impromptu meeting for only a few people, take a few moments to establish an agenda, then stick to it.
  4. State the nature of the meeting. Clearly communicate whether the meeting is scheduled to (a) convey information, (b) generate ideas, or (c) make decisions. Few work events are more discouraging than meetings where you expect to make a decision, only to find out you are on the receiving end of a data dump. 
  5. Encourage participation. Call out participants individually if they haven’t contributed and ask for opinions. Be prepared for disagreement. If the meeting’s goal were easy to achieve, you probably wouldn't need the meeting. Listen. 
  6. Summarize. Clearly define decisions and action items. Be sure that all attendees understand their action items. 
  7. Draft minutes. If a meeting is worth holding, it is worth recording. Minutes prevent misunderstandings. Include action items, due dates, and the individuals responsible for them. Spell out a reason for attendees to review the minutes.
Escoe Bliss Professional Resources has an expert team of consultants that can help your company improve processes and operational efficiency. Please contact us if we can partner with you on your organizational needs.
Blogging with Bliss blogger, Dr. Adrienne Escoe, is the president and owner of Escoe Bliss Professional Resources.


  1. Well stated, Adrienne! We need to start thinking about the real costs involved when creating and managing meetings. Working with a "TAG", topic, agenda and goal encourage attendees to share their expertise and enthusiastically participate. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Thank you, Judith! Meetings can certainly take a life of their own and any planning and communication prior to the start of them definitely helps. We like your "TAG" acronym. That's a perfect way to remember it.