This is a guest article from Gord Sheppard.
Let’s face it, most of us deal with unproductive meetings every day. You know the type of meetings I’m talking about:
- When the executives talk more about golf than how to improve profitability
- When you spend an hour figuring out which brand of gluten free hot dog to serve at the summer staff bar-b-q (I’ve actually suffered through that meeting)
- When somebody leaves the meeting every 10 minutes to check their cell phone
- Or how about when you spent 2 hours trying to come up with great new marketing ideas and you realised midway through that nobody in the room knew anything about marketing…
I could go on, but I can feel your meeting pain shooting through your eyeballs as you read this. I think we can agree that you can’t afford unproductive meetings. Why? Well, they cost too much money, waste valuable time and frustrate your staff (which could make them quit). Too much bad meeting behaviour affects your ability to serve you customers at a high level, and ultimately will cost you a lot of money.
But don’t despair! Here are 7 Awesome Meeting Habits That Will Make You Money, based on my experience in running and attending more than 2000 meetings.
MH #1 – State Your Strategic Objective at the Beginning of Your Meeting
Here’s what will happen when you clearly state your most important strategic objective at the beginning of a meeting:
- It will set the tone for the meeting, and focus everyone’s attention on why you’re all there
- If anyone says something unrelated you can ask “Is what you’re saying right now moving our strategic objective forward?”
- At the end of the meeting, you can re-state the objective then and ask “Did this meeting move our strategic objective forward?” If the answer is yes, then it was a great meeting. If the answer is no, then you’ve got some work to do to make your next meeting more profitable.
For example, take a look at this Key Strategic Objective for Apple:
To ask less of the planet, we ask more of ourselves.
Now, let’s imagine the beginning of a new product development meeting at Apple. The facilitator could say “Throughout this meeting, let’s challenge ourselves to responsibly use Earth’s resources when we talk about developing this new product.” Then they could conduct their new product discussion, and at the end of the meeting the facilitator could restate the strategic objective and then ask, “Did our discussion honour our commitment to “ask less of the planet?”
If the answer was yes, then it was a profitable meeting that moved this Key Strategic Objective forward. If the answer was no, then that meeting team should have started to make adjustments to ensure that this key concept was reflected in their next product development meeting.
MH #2 – Figure Out the Total Cost of all the Meetings That Happen in Your Organisation and CUT the Money Losers
- Do a complete inventory of all of your meetings
- Assign an average cost-per-meeting
- Determine your total meeting cost.
Now give your CEO a tissue to wipe the tears from their eyes when they realise how much money your organisation is wasting on bad meetings…
Here are some cost-per-meeting examples:
#1: A company with 25,000 employees in which each employee attends 100 meetings per year (2 meetings per week) at an estimated cost of $500 per meeting.
- Total meetings = 2,500,000
- Estimated cost per meeting = $500
- TOTAL MEETING COST PER YEAR = $1,250,000,000 (over 1 BILLION!)
#2: A medium sized business with 1000 employees in which each employee attends 50 meetings per year (1 meeting per week) at an estimated cost of $250 per meeting.
- Total meetings = 50,000
- Estimated cost per meeting = $250
- TOTAL MEETING COST PER YEAR = $1,250,000 (over 1 MILLION!)
Can your organisation afford to spend this much on meetings?
Now. Estimate what you would like your MROI to be (meeting-return-on-investment). Cut out any meetings that are not giving you a positive MROI. Then create a bonus program that encourages teams to continue to have more profitable meetings.