How-To-Measure-The-Annual-Cost-Of-Meetings - Meeting Leadership Podcast Episode Image

The smartest companies understand the cost-benefit of all aspects of business.

One aspect that gets overlooked is how much money is wasted yearly on meetings that don’t produce results. MLP #034 continues our discussion about Meetings’ Return on Investment (MROI) introduced in the Meeting Leadership Podcast #020. 

The formula considers all possible expenses that come with meetings—wages paid to attendees, facility costs, food, and refreshments—and weighs them against its benefits to your companies bottom line. 

We’ll also provide some resources to help you apply these concepts to develop practical solutions, so you can see how MROI impacts decisions managers face daily.

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach, with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leaders Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard, and I just want to say thank you so much for taking time out of your valuable day to spend time here on the podcast, picking up another leadership skill, another strategy that you can take back to make your next meeting way more productive, and way more profitable. Today’s episode, it is a blockbuster because today, we’re going to talk about how to measure the annual cost of meetings. Can you imagine if you actually understood that number? You’re a president, you’re a CEO, you’re a business owner. Whoever you are at the head of the organization, then they could pinpoint which meetings were the most valuable as in which ones were producing the best team interaction, the best products, the best innovations, the best services. They could also figure out which meetings were wasting the most amount of time, which meetings were killing their staff retention ability, that kind of thing.

01:20 – Revisiting MLP #020 – Meeting Return on Investment (MROI) 

This is really critical information for the head of every organization, and I want to remind you that we kicked off this concept back in episode 20 of the Meeting Leadership podcast. It was called how to measure the real cost of a meeting. There we introduced the idea of the meeting cost calculator formula, which was really focusing on how to measure the hourly cost of a meeting. To help you work through this, I’m going to refer to three different examples, and here’s the first one. Let’s say you’ve got 10 people on your staff. You have a weekly staff meeting for one hour every week, and that staff meeting costs you $1,000 an hour. Well, multiply that times 50. Suddenly you realize that weekly staff meeting is costing you $50,000 per year. Well, when you look at your MROI, your meeting return on investment, you can ask yourself, what did we get for $50,000 in that weekly staff meeting? Did we get some innovations? Did we move the needle forward?  Was it valuable for team building, or were we talking about cat videos and what we did on the weekend, and actually just simply burning up 500 hours of staff time. Believe me when I say that when you start to think about it like this, suddenly that weekly staff meeting will become very precious and a lot more productive.

02:31 – The Meeting Leadership Solution

 Which leads me into example number two. Now I’ve written a book, it’s called The Meeting Leadership Solution. I can tell you there was a project manager one time, he bought the book and he got so emboldened when he actually read the book. He went to his boss and he said, “Why do we have to meet for an hour every week to do an updates meeting one-on-one?” His boss replied and said, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it around here.”

He said, “Well, could we meet every second week instead?” Reluctantly, his boss said, “All right, we’ll try it.” Guess what happened? The boss liked it so much that they actually ended up doing this with all of their direct reports. So instead of meeting once a week with everybody, they started meeting every other week instead and that boss, they got a full day back into their month. As a senior leader, what would you do if you’ve got a full day back into your month? Maybe you can get onto those special projects you were supposed to do, and other things besides wasting time in bad meetings, which leads me into example number three. I like to talk about Alberta Health Care because I actually live in Alberta, Canada. Now this is a large organization, budget is north of $22 billion a year. They’ve got over 100,000 employees, and probably another 10,000 medical people they deal with as well.

03:45 – Applying the MROI formula 

You can imagine that in an organization of this size, there are a lot of meetings. Let me take a moment to do some overly simple calculations to try and come up with a round figure for the annual cost of meetings per year. Here’s an idea. Imagine that each person out of the 100,000 has to go to one meeting per week. Now if each meeting has about five people in it, then there are about 20,000 meetings per week happening in this organization. When we multiply that times 50, it is reasonable to say that there are at least a million meetings per year happening in this organization. Well, if each of those meetings is worth $500, which is pretty reasonable to say in a healthcare setting, is it possible that there’s a half a billion dollars being spent on meetings every year at Alberta Health Care? When you start to look at it this way, you have to ask yourself, were all of those meetings productive?

04:36 – Taking the first steps to cutting meeting costs

What would happen if you cut the worst 5% of all those meetings? 5% times $500 million, well then you would have $25 million worth of people’s time and resources to re-allocate to other activities. Now, if you’re the CEO of a large organization like this, how powerful would it be if you did this exercise? What would the impact on overall productivity be if you stitched in this concept of meeting return on investment for every person within your organization? So they can put their hand up and say, “Wait a second, this meeting is not giving us anything back. We’re wasting our time.” Or they could say, “This meeting is fantastic. We’re developing new ideas, we’re pushing things forward, we’re going deeper as a team. We actually want to do more of it.” That is why I believe you should make the time to learn how to measure the annual cost of meetings.

05:29 – How to measure the hourly cost of a meeting –

Just as a reminder, if you’d like to learn how to measure the hourly cost of a meeting, then listen to episode 20 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called how to measure the real cost of a meeting. You can get that by going to If you want to make your meetings even more valuable from a big picture perspective, then check out episode two on the podcast. It’s called how to connect your meetings to your strategy, and you can get that by going to I also want to let you know that this episode or the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Big picture, small picture. Whether you are a leader looking for new skills, or you just want to learn how to run an outstanding meeting, visit to learn more. As always, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

06:21 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. Don’t forget to write and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Connect With Gordon Sheppard

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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