Mitigating The High Cost of Unproductive Meetings for Small Businesses

Key Tips for Better Managing Your Time and Money

The saying ‘time is money’ is especially true for small businesses that are looking to grow and expand their operations. That’s why it’s so important for new business owners to find ways to manage their time more efficiently and wisely each day. Moreover, with more than 28 million small businesses in the US having to manage ongoing communications with anywhere from 5 employees up to 500 employees, it’s even more vital that they learn how manage their business meetings, including sales calls, training seminars and even webinar sessions.

Believe it or not, many businesses and leading enterprises are constantly struggling with the costly and growing epidemic of too many business meetings. In fact, with more than 11 million meetings occurring in the U.S. every day, professionals lose 31 hours per month to unproductive meetings. That’s four work days of loss time (according to EffectiveMeetings.com).

However, not only is it a loss of time but money. Some stats show that we waste $37 Billion in unnecessary meetings every year.  What’s your share of this costly expense?

Whether meeting in person, via phone or on-line – all meetings cost money. The real cost is in the time consumed by all attendees. However, to really make meetings cost effective, you must have a valid reason for holding the meeting in the first place. Every meeting, regardless of how small or short should have a purpose. Probably the most vital thing a meeting organizer can do is to think through the purpose of a meeting, and, to outline the core items that need to be addressed in order to accomplish that purpose. The organizer also needs to determine if it’s justified to bring people together in a meeting format in order to facilitate the information.

If it’s truly justified to hold a meeting, here are things you can do to make the meeting even more effective:

1. Prepare an agenda in advance that you can communicate to attendees prior to the meeting date.

  • Outline expected outcome for the meeting
  • Charter specific attendees with contributions
  • Define the time allotted and that everyone is expected to adhere to that timing
  • Leverage social networks to communicate “public” information to all potential attendees
  • Reach out to Internet “crowds” for micro-tasks to off load these from meeting attendees

Mitigating The High Cost of Unproductive Meetings for Small Businesses2. Work to build trust among the attendees so that everyone is on the same page

Meetings work better when everyone is pulling together rather than protecting turf.

Establishing trust among attendees can be challenging but, when accomplished, the results are very positive for any current and subsequent meetings. To do so, one approach is to make sure that each “group” sees the benefit to cooperation and understands that everyone Wins when the meeting goals are achieved.

3. Use Web/Video/Audio conferencing tools to engage attendees that are remote.

There are low cost web conferencing tools that allow you to host small or even large meetings of up to 3,000 attendees – and all without ongoing monthly fees. Some of these solutions will even allow you to customize your online meeting experience with your company’s brand standards.

4. Use web conference tools that support BYOD (making it easy for attendees to use any device they are most comfortable using).

BYOD tells attendees to Bring Your Own Device so they can connect to online meetings with whatever tools they are most comfortable with (cell phone, iPad, laptop etc.)

5. When attendees from different teams or departments are brought together, leverage the contribution from each group for the overall benefit of the meeting goals

6. Establish action items and set schedules for follow-up

The host should also do things after the meeting to insure that the value of the time spent together is realized. Send the attendees a meeting summary with the action items and the due dates highlighted.

Finally, by following these simple steps, you can work smarter and harder, and, you can also fight against the ongoing epidemic of unproductive meetings.

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