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The Most Expensive Meeting I’ve Ever Attended

September 7, 2018

Conservatively, I’d say the meeting cost about $1.5M per hour, or about $25,000 per minute. It could have been much more. I doubt it was less.

I work for a global company. It’s based in Europe, but operates in over 100 countries. Last week we had a global meeting to hear from the international president.

The company has tens of thousands of employees. But, even if we were a small company of 10, a staff meeting is the single most expensive meeting your company will have.

I once worked for a company where I was the manager over the email team. The manager I reported to also had managers under him who were over the identity management team, networking, database, and desktop computing. Like many managers he had a weekly staff meeting. During his staff meetings we would continue to work on email until it was our turn to brief him on our team’s issues.

After several weeks, my manager became frustrated.

It bothers me that you guys keep working on email during my meetings.

Well, we all have back to back meetings and we also have tons of email. If we don’t do it here, we have to stay late or take it home.

That staff meeting was one of the most expensive meetings of the week. My manager’s entire staff was not doing anything else on our own jobs while we were in that meeting. Is it any wonder we wanted to take advantage of each spare moment?

Knowing your staff meetings are the most expensive meeting you will hold all week (or quarterly as in the case of our global meeting) it makes sense to be as efficient with the time as possible.

I don’t schedule a lot of meetings. Most of the work I do is one on one, a phone call, an email, a text or an instant message. When I do schedule meetings, especially reoccuring staff meetings, I schedule them for 30 minutes and try to finish early.

Entire books have been written about meetings, how to hold a meeting, how to avoid meetings, how to use your imagination to cast Hollywood actors as the people in your meeting. My favorite is to count the number of men vs women. In IT the ratio is typically 3:1 up to 10:1.

It’s a good bet that if your attendees have time and the need to play those kind of mind games, your meeting is too long.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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One Comment
  1. Have all you meetings be stand-up meetings and you’l be amazed at how fast they go.

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