Are you one of those who call meeting at work every time and not getting desired result? Do you need a proven way to reduce the meetings and achieve more efficiencies? Elon Mask has an idea! Unknown to many people, meetings are expensive. Nicholas Sonnenberg shed some lights on this and explained ways to reduce cost of meetings.
The true cost of meetings
Most teams schedule meetings without ever thinking about the actual “cost” that comes with having a group of people set aside a part of their day to meet. Yet meetings are actually one of the largest expenses and productivity drains in most organizations.
If those meetings are useful, that’s great. Unfortunately, they’re often not–Asana’s Anatomy of Work Report found that, in 2022, knowledge workers spent around 129 hours in meetings that were entirely unnecessary. That’s time that could be invested elsewhere in the business. Lowering the cost of meetings is actually one of the most cost-effective moves an organization can make.
You may have heard Musk saying that meetings “are what happens when people aren’t working,”
Elon’s three meeting rules
In 2018, Musk sent an email to Tesla employees that outlined, among other things, three clear meeting rules to follow:
- “Please get [rid] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”
- “Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.”
- “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”
I couldn’t agree more. Musk and I seem to have very similar thoughts on meetings, and it’s because we both understand their true cost.
The 4 ways to reduce the cost of a meeting
When you break it down, there are really only four ways to reduce the cost of a meeting:
Eliminate it entirely.
Eliminating a meeting can be done by canceling it or conducting it asynchronously. That means using asynchronous communication methods like Slack, email, or video/audio recordings (I like Loom for video) instead of holding a meeting. This saves time, frees up people’s schedules, and has many other benefits that come with asynchronous communication.
Reduce the number of people.
Reducing the number of people can be done by taking Musk’s advice and leaving meetings where you’re no longer adding value. But it can also be done by strongly considering who needs to be there in the first place. Remember, you can always pull someone in for a portion of the meeting or send out meeting notes afterward to keep people in the loop.
Reduce its duration.
Reducing the duration is an easy one. I’ve found that people tend to conform to whatever length of the time a meeting is scheduled for. Try this experiment: cut all your recurring meetings by 15 minutes and see what happens. When I did this, there was almost no impact. We still covered everything we would have previously, we just used our time more efficiently.
Reduce its frequency (if it’s a recurring meeting).
Reducing the frequency is another one that Musk and I agree on. Sometimes, meetings are scheduled frequently because things are changing rapidly and people need to check in with each other. Once they stabilize, those meetings should become less frequent. The reality is that moving a weekly meeting to biweekly often has very few negative consequences–but it halves the cost of the meeting. Try it and see what happens.
This article was adapted from an originally published article on inc.com