Why Most Meetings are a Waste of Time and Money

Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

Today’s post is just a short rant about what a waste of time meetings are. The other day I had to go across town for what was supposed to be an important meeting but it could have been handled on the phone in less than five minutes. Yet the other party insisted on meeting in person.

There are about 11 million meetings every day in the US. (An infographic from Inc. reports that number at 25 million.) Unfortunately, many of these meetings are unproductive and end up wasting a countless amount of time and money for everyone involved. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of meeting time is wasted and that $37 billion is wasted every year due to unproductive meetings. Why are these meetings so terrible?

First of all, meetings simply take up too much time. Most employees go to 67 meetings a month and spend up to four hours a week simply preparing for status update meetings. Furthermore, meetings take up 35% of middle manager’s time and 50% of upper manager’s time.

Second, many employees waste time during meetings. An overwhelming 92% of employees admitted to multitasking during a meeting and 41% said that they multitask “often” or “all the time.” An infographic from Atlassan says that 91% of employees who regularly daydreamed during a meeting, 96% didn’t show up, 39% employees slept, and 73% did other work. Furthermore, 45% felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they had to attend.

Third, poor planning often leads to awful meetings. Too many meetings do not stick to a solid schedule and end up running overtime. In many cases, not all employees actually have to be at the meeting, so they are likely to see it as a waste of time. Status update meetings can easily be replaced with a mass email or announcement. Meetings should be created with structure and purpose. If not, they will just be a waste of time.

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