Most of us are getting back into work after a long break and watching our schedules start to fill up again with meetings. Are you wishing you could reduce some of them?

Whether you're in a small home-based business or part of a large multinational, you'll probably find that time is far too easily gobbled up in meetings. The following case study might give you some good ideas about how to save some of that time (and therefore money!)

I'd been engaged to run a year-long programme of coaching and training for a trans-Tasman marketing team. In her briefing the New Zealand GM said, 'Robyn, there's a shocking wastage of time with meetings.' So that became part of our focus.

Here's what Kate, a senior product manager, reported a couple of weeks after we'd begun working together.


1. Instead of driving into the city twice in the previous week she had asked two of her advertising agencies to come to her office. It might not have saved time for the agencies, but after all, whose money was it? Saving: 3 hours of travel time.

2. She was invited to a very important presentation, in her own building, for a major client. It was moderated by one of her colleagues. In the past Kate would have sat through the full event - over 5 hours. Instead she asked to be called when required for her contribution. That only took 45 minutes. Saving: 4 & ½ hours.

3. With her better meeting management skills, she kept an internal meeting (that previously had always gone overtime) on track and to time. Saving: at least ½ an hour.

Total time saved that week: 8 hours. Add to that the other work she did achieve and you can see why Kate was excited about her output and progress the next time we talked!

Karlea, another project leader, also has regular external agency meetings. One of her frustrations was lack of clear outcomes and clear incisive next steps from some meetings. So, for the next one her major focus was to make sure 'next steps' were in place before they all left the room. The sharp intention resulted in far better results than previously.

She was also aware of not involving her colleagues unnecessarily. Instead of five people sitting through a 1 & ½ hour meeting (7 hours 30 minutes of company time), by inviting people only for the part relevant to themselves the total time invested became 2 hours 50 minutes, a saving to the company of 4 hours 40 minutes. In dollars that equated to a saving of a minimum of $1,000 in direct cost, even without factoring in things like cost of desk, phone, building, support staff and of course the opportunity cost of so many staff not getting on with other vital work.

What can you do, or already do, to save meeting time? Or reduce the number you attend? Have you tried having some meeting-free days in your week?