There is no shortage of statistics, books, or blogs citing the negative effects of meetings. In fact there is so much literature on the subject that it might just be the most discussed topic relating to the modern workplace.
Statistics like this:
Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries. 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring their team closer together.
A recent study by Microsoft, America Online and Salary.com found that the average person really works only three days a week. The rest of working time was regarded as wasted, with “unproductive meetings” heading the list. Workers on average regard a third of any meeting as pointless.
Making matters worse is the fact that even if we do relate to the pain associated with meetings, we are failing to improve meeting conditions. In the last 50 years, meetings have actually increased in length and frequency to a point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 60’s.
And, if all this research wasn’t bad enough, we are now being told that spending too much time in meetings may contribute to an early death. In other words, we are not just destroying our productivity, we may also be destroying ourselves.
Why do we do it?
You likely have a few meetings booked this week that may or may not relate to your role and responsibilities. Some of you might even be stuck in a meeting at this very second, and quietly from your mobile device looking for research or assurance that you aren’t the only one frustrated with your endless unproductive meetings.
So, why do we put ourselves through this if the research suggests too many meetings are bad?
Well, for the majority of us we’ve become accustomed to meetings and we rarely question them. They’ve become a continuous perfunctory series of events that most of us go along with even if we don’t quite understand why we are meeting. If Dilbert has to go to long unproductive meetings, then the rest of us have to endure them too right?
Yes, many meetings can be unproductive time wasters, but that doesn’t necessarily mean meetings should never occur. When executed correctly, meetings can produce a useful strategy and process for connecting with others, and collaborating on projects.
In other words the problem isn’t so much that we are meeting, or that we desire to meet, but rather the meetings themselves. Despite our angst and the plethora of information related to ineffective meetings, we aren’t aren’t doing much to improve them. Subsequently, we are also wasting a lot of money.
How Much is this Costing?
Have you ever wondered how much your meeting is costing you? Well thanks to a formula by the Harvard Business Review, you can calculate that exact cost. By factoring in the number of attendees, their salaries, and the time spent in the meeting you can determine how much your meeting is costing your workplace.
For example, a monthly department wide meeting with a duration of three hours consisting of 16 employees, can be costly. Factoring in five salaries at $40,000, 4 at $50,000, 3 at $60,000, 2 at $80,000, 1 at $110,000, 1 at $120,000, the total cost of one single meeting can be well over $2000. This equates to over $24,000 annually.
Another study by HBR in 2014, examined email schedules and concluded that one weekly executive meeting ate up 300,000 hours a year. The study also cited that meetings took up 7,000 person-hours for the executives involved, who also had to meet with unit heads to prepare for it, generating an additional 20,000 hours of meetings; those unit heads had to prepare for those meetings with team meetings (63,000 hours), and those team meetings generated numerous preparatory meetings (210,000 hours).
Assuming your meetings are engaging and productive, maybe you don’t have much to worry about. But, if your meetings fail to accomplish much, you could very well be wasting a significant amount of money.
While calculating meeting costs isn’t an exact science, and not always accurate, it does help remind us that every employee interaction has a cost associated with it. And whether we want to admit it or not, meetings impact the bottom line. The real challenge is finding a way to make the most of your team’s time when together, without having so many meetings.
Rethinking How Meetings Have Always Been Done
If you Google the term ‘Meetings Suck’, your search results will exceed 14 pages. Or, you might even uncover ‘meeting bingo’, which is nothing more than a collection of commonly used events and phrases heard in meetings. As evidence in the meeting bingo categories, meetings are predictable, and haven’t really changed much in the last thirty years.
There are an interminable number of lists, infographics, and books you can read that give you all sorts of tips and tricks on why your meetings aren’t working and what you can do to make them better. Regardless of all of these so-called pieces of advice, I’d argue that your meeting attendees will likely continue to spend the duration of the meeting peering at their phones or tablets – pretending to take notes, or franticly trying not to fall asleep.
Why? Because you haven’t changed the actual format and structure of the meeting presentation. You might even be guilty of a phenomenon known as ‘death by PowerPoint’.
Up until recently many meeting formats were all pretty similar. They included a speaker of some sort, a topic, and were often presented through either PowerPoint or KeyNote. While these programs help visually convey a story, they fail to fully engage the attention of employees.
Those guilty of contributing to death by PowerPoint probably know exactly what I mean. Slides with too much text, ugly graphics, and reading out loud the contents to each one of those slides.
When your audience is emotionally disconnected from the content in your presentation, it’s time to rethink your presentation strategy. It’s time to really shake things up and do things radically differently in your meetings.
Interactive Video Presentations
One of the main reasons meetings are held is to educate and inform employees about a particular topic. But what if employees could receive this knowledge on their own time, without sitting through long and unnecessary presentations? Wouldn’t this be a better use of company time and money?
By using SpeachMe, an interactive video presentation technology employees can now receive brief and intuitive knowledge capsules. Rather than watching someone flip through long and unnecessary PowerPoint decks, the presentations can easily be created by their peers across multiple work locations.
When we examine some of the reasons why many employees despise meetings, it’s easy to see how a presentation platform like SpeachMe address each one of the traditional meeting pain-points:
Meetings are too long: SpeachMe aims to provide brief knowledge capsules in less than ten minutes.
Meetings are boring: Brief bursts of content gets straight to the point, without wasting time on introductions and agendas.
Meeting attendees are often late: Employees can access SpeachMe content on their own time without waiting around for others.
Meetings don’t have clear outcomes: Because the content pieces are brief, SpeachMe helps ensure each piece of content has a clear and definable purpose.
Meetings are uninspiring: With the right composition between video and rich media, SpeachMe ensures your employees are never bored.
With SpeachMe, employees benefit by acquiring the necessary knowledge and information they require, and workplaces benefit by substantially reducing the amount of meetings held across an organization.
If you are one of the thousands of organizations that is in a current cycle of pointless and ineffective meetings, it’s now time to take your meetings to a new level.
As workplaces become more globalized, and the demand for effective employee education increases, organizations must aim to find new and interactive ways of capturing employee interest and attention. An interactive video presentation is one of the best ways to immediately impact and improve extensive workplace meetings. After all, if meetings are truly impacting our health, isn’t any improvement worth it?