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Meetings are ubiquitous in today’s organizational culture. Some organizations even have meetings to plan future meetings. But what does all this meeting time mean to your organization as a whole? Or, perhaps more telling, what does it mean to the country and the economy? Data pulled from professorial and private studies give insight into what all of these meetings really mean.
It may not come as a surprise, but meetings are costly, lack preparation, and most frequently start at 11am.
Keep in mind that the average $338 salary cost per meeting is an adjusted average that does not include high-paid CEOs and other business leaders. Those meetings can cost upwards of $20,000 per event.
Staff, task force and information sharing meetings are the most common meeting type. They account for 88% of total meetings held.
Of course, many meetings are certainly a blend of “Task Force” and “Brainstorming” and many people probably consider their “Staff Meetings” to be “Ceremonial”.
These meetings occur a lot. 11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion.
As you can imagine, not all participants in those millions of meetings are happy to be there. The average nine participants in a meeting consider a third of the time spent in the meeting to be unproductive. That’s a lot of wasted time.
Perhaps one of the reasons that so much meeting time is considered unproductive is that so few meetings actually lead to any decisions. The most common complaint people had about meetings is that they were inconclusive. The next most frequent complaints, that participants are poorly prepared and/or organized, don’t help either.
Finally, the most common meeting length is somewhere between 31-60 minutes. While this likely occurs because it often takes a little while to get everyone on the same page, it probably also derives from the fact that 30 and 60 minutes are the time blocks selectable on calendaring apps. Parkinson’s law claims that work expands to fill the amount of time allotted to it. So, if 60 minutes are allotted to a meeting, that’s probably how long you’ll be there.
Do the meetings at your organization reflect the stats above? How do you compare to the average? Have any meeting insights of your own? Let us know in the comments below.
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Sources: - Been Kim & Cynthia Rudin, Learning About Meetings, arXiv:1306.1927. - Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Table B-3, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t19.htm (accessed 4/18/15). - Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost?, CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012). - Nicholas C. Romano & Jay F. Nunamaker, Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice, 0-7695-0981-9/01.