It is said that on an average day in the United States, there will be 17 million meetings. (It makes you wonder how anything ever gets done!) A meeting is two or more people getting together to exchange information. What could be simpler? Yet, it is one of the biggest institutional time wasters that we suffer.

An informative exercise is to calculate the hourly cost of the meeting. A person earning $50,000 per year represents an hourly salary cost to the organization of $25 (without adding in benefits, overhead, and profit potential). If ten people at this salary level meet for one hour, the cost is $250 for the hour. Then look at what was accomplished. Was it worth $250? Sometimes “yes”. A lot of the times, “no”.

I have created five steps that will help you to improve the productivity of your meetings. Even if you are not responsible for running the meeting, bring these suggestions to the person who is responsible.

1. Ask, “Is it necessary?” We always hold the meeting because we have always held the meeting. What would happen if it did not take place? What if we did not meet quite so often? How about if we met once a month instead of every week?

2. Ask the question, “Am I necessary?” Now I do not mean this in the deep philosophical sense, but, rather, “do I get anything out of the meeting?” and “do I contribute anything to the meeting?” If the answers to those two questions are both “no”, try to avoid attending the meeting. Or, perhaps just the first half of the meeting is relevant to you. In this case, see if there is a way to get excused from the second half of the meeting.

3. Prepare an agenda. Just as it is a good practice to prepare a daily “to do list” to help us get focused each day, we ought to have a written agenda for our meeting. Circulate it in advance to those who will be attending. Let them know what is to be discussed. Give them a chance to prepare. Do not hold meetings by “ambush”.

4. Set the times. Have a starting time and stick to it. Set time for each item to be discussed so that one item does not dominate the entire meeting leaving no time to discuss the other items. Have an ending time and stick to it.

5. Commit to action. Meetings ought to produce results. Resolve to a course of action. We have discussed the issue, so now what? Assign responsibility for the tasks to specific individuals with deadlines and hold them accountable.

If these suggestions are helpful, let me invite you to attend one of our monthly Public Time Management Seminars. “The best seminar I have ever attended!” During the course of our 2 ?day Time Management Seminar, we will show you how to get more done in less time, with less stress, and how to create more time and balance for their personal life. Our sessions are always fun, entertaining, content rich, and filled with practical common sense ideas to help you to get more done in less time, in both your workday and personal life. Our monthly schedule for Public Seminars can be found at our webpages: Or better yet, Don is available to tailor and personally conduct his learning programs, in-house, at your location for groups of eight or more from one-hour up to three days. Contact Don now for details at: or call him directly at: (203) 929-9902.

Would you like to receive free Timely Time Management Tips on a regular basis to increase your personal productivity and get more out of every day? Sign up now for our free “TIME MANAGEMENT LIST”. Just go to: and select “subscribe”. We welcome you aboard!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore-Professional Speaker
Productivity Institute
Time Management Seminars
60 Huntington St.
P.O. Box 2126
Shelton, CT 06484
(800) 969-3773
(203) 929-9902
Fax: (203) 929-8151

Professional Member-National Speakers Association

September 14, 1999

Copyright 1999 You may re-print the above information in its entirety in your publication, newsletter, or on your webpage. For permission, please email your request for “reprint” to: