Are you dog tired of bad meetings that waste time and money? How many times have we begrudgingly allowed our time, energy, and enthusiasm to be drained away by longer than necessary, poorly designed and executed meeting? Too many most likely.
We are not alone. On an average day in the U.S. there are 11 million meetings. Recent estimates indicate that meetings in the U.S. waste $37 billion annually. It has been estimated that employees spend an average of one-third of their time in meetings. Every meeting requires time, money, and resources....it may be one of the biggest investments your business might make. 
It could be different. Meetings can be seen as a valuable investment or a lost expense depending on how it is managed.
Defensive moves: Know how much it costs – if you don’t know the cost, there is no way to compare the value. There are some spreadsheet examples online for measuring this. Be sure to note time used for meeting preparation and ‘lost opportunity’ costs. These tools often ignore follow-up time (such as preparing notes or follow-up actions), the number of times someone forgets an assignment, and travel costs (especially the cost of lost family time when traveling outside of standard business times). 
These costs don’t happen just once. They happen every time a meeting is scheduled and repetitive, routine meetings can be one of the most expensive meetings you may have. Why? Because they may happen every week (or twice a week! yikes!), often lack organization, fail to get the right things done, and are typically not very efficient. The average salary cost for a meeting is $338 (and that is just for the time in the meeting). 
Fight back...part I.
Is every meeting necessary? Probably not. If you don’t need it, don’t do it... but also don’t assume just because you don’t need it, no one else does either. Most employees attend an average of 62 meetings a month. 
Defensive moves: Check to make sure that the meeting and time is worth it with those who will be attending. Especially for meetings scheduled near holidays and Fridays. Consider using the time for something else that is important...might be a great time for a little team building or strategic planning.
Don’t let people steal your time. There are multiple problems and opportunities here... Do you really want to go to that meeting and once there, how long are you willing to listen to dribble? Meeting participants report that an average of 33.4 percent of every meeting is unproductive. 
Defensive moves: If you are not sure you want to go? Don’t say ‘yes’ if ‘maybe’ will do! Once in the meeting, you might consider setting and sticking to a timeframe.
Some people will take as much time as they possible can and are often so focused on their topic (or perhaps making a presentation) that they don't consider other needs. Set specific times in the agenda, make sure the speaker understands those parameters, and if that time includes questions and answer time.
If the speaker can’t get to their main goal within the time allowed, negotiate with the group for another five minutes. Don’t let them assume that you will extend the meeting (perhaps making everyone late to their next meeting or worse) or let them come back to your next meeting. This can be, unfortunately, a painful learning experience for some. Respect everyone's time and efforts. If the speaker can't wrap it up in time, walk them out.
Make it Count! No record of the meeting? It didn’t happen. Next week, no one will remember who attended, what was presented or decided, or actions that might move the group towards a goal. There is nothing to share, reference, related to assignments, agreements, progress, or accomplishments.
Defensive moves: Keep the meeting and record creation simple. Ask for volunteers to take notes for a particular topic. Capture information manually, via sound or video recording (there are free apps for cell phones). Don't note every word or conversation. Do note decisions, assignments, and agreements. Review the decisions, assignments, and next steps at the end of the meeting (people will be more likely to remember them!) and use them to 'restart' the group's creative thoughts ('gee we really got a lot done last time') when you meet again.
Make sure the ‘right’ people are at the meeting. The ‘right’ people may be the ones that can actually approve things (like expenditures or actions), they may also be the ones that can help balance power in the group so that all interests are represented.
Defensive moves: Find out who the right people are and invite them. Have a face-to-face meeting with them and help them understand their role and why it is important that they or another ‘right’ representative are there. Make sure that their efforts and attendance are recognized and that they feel a part of the group. Worse case, reschedule the meeting when all of the 'right' folks can attend.
Level the knowledge of the group by making sure that everyone understands the issues, purpose, and goals. If a participant needs more, schedule an briefing or provide other background information prior to the meeting.
Part II will show you a unique way to create agendas that get things done, build trust and collaborative team spirit, and SAVE TIME!
1The True Cost of Meetings (https://www.readytalk.com/meeting-resources/infographics/true-cost-meetings-infographic)
2 Meetings Survival Guide, Cispus Collaboration Institute Workshop Training Guide (http://www.awsplearningcenters.org/cispus-institute) by K. Collier
Business Retention& Expansion
Entrepreneurs often wear at least 27 hats and have to do many tasks to make a business succeed. Email processing can be one of those hats and take an extraordinary amount of resources out of an already packed schedule!