Meetings cost money, but that’s not the real problem. The problem comes from holding meetings that waste money. It’s better to run meetings that provide the best return on your investment, right?

Consider, then, some of the costs typically associated with meetings. These can include staff wages, as well as costs associated with meeting facilities, catering, travel, technology, and more.

Which of these costs comprises the bulk of your expense?

Most companies that study the problem say the largest expense involves their employee’s time. Managers often overlook the expense of people’s time, because they’ve already committed to paying salaries. But when all the calculations are done, the facts show that companies spend a fortune to send their workers to meetings.

Here is a formula that some companies use to estimate how much it costs to send your staff to a meeting:

Meeting Staff Cost = “Burdened Staff Cost” per hour x Meeting Time in Hours x Number of People.

The Burdened Staff Cost is calculated by totalling your entire annual business cost (salaries, insurance, office overhead—everything needed to keep your business running) divided by the number of employees.

Consider an example: Ten employees meet for one hour each week. The average burdened staff cost is, say, $100 per hour. That one-hour meeting, therefore, will cost $1,000. Over the course of a year, that one weekly meeting will cost your company $52,000.

The question is: Is the meeting worth it? Perhaps it is, perhaps not. But it surely is worth working collectively to reduce the time staff spend in meetings.

Consider three practical suggestions that work.

1. Shorten the time scheduled for each meeting

If your meeting usually lasts an hour, shorten it to 45 minutes. Reducing meeting by 15 minutes can motivate employees to use their time more effectively and target the discussion on matters that really count. Encourage attendees to spend the extra time preparing for the meeting in advance.

2. Start and end meetings on time

Many meeting minutes are spent waiting for a latecomer to arrive, or for one of the attendees to come to a point. Rigorously sticking to the scheduled time not only saves money, it signals to some in the meeting that their habits must change.

3. Trim the attendee list

Not sure that someone needs to be at the meeting? Then don’t invite him or her. Pumping the lower attendance figure into the meeting cost equation will quickly show you the savings that will accrue.

Experience shows that improving basic meeting skills—such as preparing an agenda, monitoring time, and following up on meeting results—consistently yields significant time and cost savings for a company.

And you will spend less money on meetings!


Studies consistently show the biggest expense with meeting involves employee’s time. This value is calculated using the Meeting Staff Cost formula. Three simple suggestions illustrate how to trim meeting costs and improve the ROI for your next meeting.


What will meeting rooms look like in the future?