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What is the actual cost of six managers sitting in a meeting for three hours, each earning £20,000 a year? When you take into consideration the wages, loss of earnings for the organisation, preparation, travel, refreshments, administration, etc., the actual cost is in excess of £200. When managers come to me to sign a cheque of £1 or more, they have to justify their spending. I sign only if I am satisfied that their spending falls in line with our company policy and is necessary.

"Are you attending too many unproductive meetings?"

Do you know the cost of your meetings? Would you sign a cheque for £200 without asking any questions? Do you spend most of your time attending meetings? Do others use the meeting to satisfy their ego? Are you attending never ending meetings? Meetings without objectives, timescales, action plans and effective leadership are just mere discussions and a fantastic waste of your time and your organisation's money. Consider every meeting you attend as a business investment and invest in it wisely. Construct a meeting appraisal relating to your organisation and your personal life and check how much you are spending each year on meetings. I believe that your findings will surprise you. Using this simple but effective system will enable you to totally justify the number of meetings you are attending:

Total Justification
Action Plan

Total Justification

Before you organise the meeting, be absolutely sure this meeting must take place and is a good investment of your organisation's time and money. To ensure this, ask yourself these questions:
a) Why is this meeting necessary?
b) Is there a cheaper, quicker or more effective way than having a meeting? i.e. fax, telephone, letter, memorandum, e-mail, etc.
c) What is the agenda?
d) Who needs to be there?
e) Who will record the meeting?
f) Where will be the most convenient place to have this meeting?
g) What other considerations do I need to take into account?


Make sure the objectives for your meeting are clear, specific and simple enough for everyone to understand. Objectives are essential as without them you have no basis on which to judge how successful the meeting was. Therefore inform everyone beforehand of the objectives and again at the start of the meeting. Make sure that discussions and decisions stay on target to your objectives as again without objectives your meetings will suffer. At the close of the meeting, review and check to see if you have achieved your objectives.


In my early years in management, I'd often make the mistake of not checking how long a meeting would last. As a result of this, I wasted many hours. Once you agree on the timescale of the meeting it will help focus everyone's attention on the matters to be discussed. A meeting without a timescale is like an open cheque with the authorised signatures in place. If a meeting is to start at 3pm and end at 4pm, start at 3pm and only exceed your time if you have the agreement of the other members. It shows respect for other people's time. If you constantly start your meetings late, individuals attending will arrive when they think you will start. Throughout the meeting be conscious of the time and in turn money as it passes by. One of my major challenges in life is, "never be late for a meeting." Arriving on time is respectful. You may have heard the saying, "If you want respect, you must first give it." I say to you, if you want others to respect your time, you must respect theirs.

Action Plan

When you attend a meeting you are there to make decisions, analyse, solve problems or be updated. Meetings where decisions have been made should form the basis of an "action plan". This plan should indicate decisions made, who is responsible for carrying out the action and the date and time for completion. Failing to do this and holding individuals accountable may result in an agenda item spending up to one year on your agenda. When action involves more than one person, always make sure that one is more accountable than the others.


Leading a meeting is an art. The success or failure of a meeting rests with the:

Skills and
Knowledge of the leader

A good leader is polite, sensitive, approachable, empathic and quick to listen. S/he is well prepared and makes certain that everyone is comfortable and fully resourced, enabling them to fully participate. Good leaders recognise the unlimited and untapped potential in people and therefore create an open, friendly and non-threatening environment to foster creativity and generally get the best from individuals.

They are constantly working on their attitude, improving their skills and updating their knowledge to find better ways to lead and understand people. When chairing meetings I am at my very best when like a judge I:
a) am very friendly.
b) keep order.
c) am neutral.
d) allow everyone to speak in turn.
e) stop any foolish behaviour which may allow the meeting to get out of hand.
f) am time conscious.
g) examine all the evidence carefully.
h) ask relevant questions.
i) consider every contribution, no matter how small or great.
j) give a summary and make relevant decisions.

When you follow this technique and others inform you of how well you led the meeting, humble yourself and seek further improvement.

Effective leaders are in great demand.

Errol A Williams©

Meetings Article Rating


Summary Attending unproductive meetings

Attending unproductive meetings

About The Author

Errol A Williams

I am an International Management Trainer with over 36 years’ experience. I have trained thousands of directors, managers, leaders, supervisors, and unemployed people. My passion is to coach one million students to unleash their unlimited potential through personal growth. I was co-founder and Executive Chairman for one of Europe’s largest multi-million pound community complexes, launched by HRH the Prince of Wales in 1988. For over 25 years I have visited, counselled, and ran training courses for UK prisoners. Currently I am a Senior Pastor and Regional Overseer who sits on the National Executive Board for the Church of God of Prophecy UK Trust. I have taught Systematic Theology for over ten years. I am married and have six children and six grandchildren. I am the author of “Pursuing Excellence”, “The Temptation Trap”, “Sowing For A Blessing”, “TIPS For Dealing With Difficult Conversations” and “Building A Dream”. During the 2010 general election I stood as a Parliamentary Candidate. I am a professional photographer, graphics designer, virtual services provider, and web developer. My hobbies include chess, squash, backgammon, and domino. (My Profile)

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