How many meetings is too many?

It’s a question we ask often on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.  We ask because holding too many meetings can lead to employee burnout if the actual workloads are heavy.

In episode 115, we explain why you should cut unnecessary meetings and move toward quality over quantity.  A quick 3-step process is a roadmap to follow as you eliminate bad meetings.

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00:00 – Show Opening

What would happen if you could cut your worst meeting this week? I mean the one that is absolutely sucking the life out of your soul and you could get that time back to do something else. Well if you want to learn how to do this, then stick around because this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is about stopping the meeting madness and learning how to cut out your worst meetings today.

00:48 – Podcast content starts here!

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.

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I want to say thank you for being here. Thanks for being the type of person who wants to go beyond facilitation, a professional who wants to get into meeting leadership. This is where every meeting that you attend is highly productive, you are doing everything you can to really connect every meeting to your strategy, and you know that each meeting that you are participating in and driving forward is actually helping to build your entire organization. The flow through from that is to help you serve your end user, your customer, your clients, your community at the highest possible level. Thank you so much for tuning in.

01:27 – Burnout trajectory – Too many meetings!

Let me take a moment to set the stage for this episode. Now, when I teach this concept at conferences, what I like to do with the crowd of engineers, doctors, lawyers, professionals, bureaucrats, whoever’s in the room, I say this, and you can do this along with me right now. I say, “Put your hand in the air if you are in at least one meeting per week.”

All right. Everybody’s hands go up, right, of course. Then we say, “Well, now keep your hand in the air if you’re in at least two meetings per week.” Most hands stay up. Then I say, “Count along with me,” and then I go, three, and four, and five, and six.

Now people lower down the food chain, they drop off about five or six meetings a week. The people in middle or upper management, they’ve got their hands in the air until 10, 12 meetings per week. I can tell you, and this is why I am so passionate about this, there have been times when I’m in a room full of professionals, people still have their hands in the air at 25, at 30 meetings per week.

What’s the reality of this? If someone’s in 25, 30 meetings a week, that means they have no day time to do anything else. A types, most of them are, these are often also the highest paid people in your organization. They have to go home at night and do their regular work. Well, if they’ve got kids, if they’ve got a spouse, if they’ve got people, parents maybe they need to take care of, they can’t do that very well. They’re automatically on a burnout trajectory. That is absolutely happening. Look at any office tower, any healthcare system. This is over and over again with our best people.

03:02 – Stop Meeting Madness

I am inspired to bring this episode to you to really help to stop this meeting madness. To help you do this, I’d like you to follow these three simple steps. Now step number one, well that’s actually to count the number of meetings that you’re in during the daytime, during each week. Once you’ve got that number, then you can really get a feel for which ones are more important and which ones you can really let go of.

03:11 – Step 1 – Count the number of meetings you’re in during the day

I’ll pass along another inspiring story that maybe you can glom onto as well. Now in my book, it’s called the Meeting Leadership Solution, and in there, there are 10 steps to help professionals learn how to improve their meetings, come up with a system and approach to really soup to nuts, make their meetings significantly better.

Now, there’s a project manager in healthcare in my city who got a copy of the book, read the book, got emboldened, and then they went to their boss and here’s what they said. They said, “Hey, you know, why do we need to meet for an updates meeting for one hour every week?” The boss said, “Well, you know, we’ve always done it that way.” This person said, “Well, would it be possible to meet every other week instead?” The boss reluctantly said, “Well, all right. We’ll give it a try.”

Well then this started happening and guess what, that boss did it with all of her direct reports, and then that boss got an entire day back into her month. If you are a senior leader, what would you do with an entire day back in your month? What’s special project, what profit driving initiative would you actually get to, to actually make things better, not only for you, your team, but your entire organization? 

04:37 – Step 2 – Measure the opportunity cost of bad meetings

It’s a no-brainer, which leads us into the second step. That is to sit down with your boss and actually demonstrate why some of these meetings are not worthwhile.

Some people like to use the phrase opportunity cost, as in if I’m in this bad meeting, I can’t be doing something else. You know then, it’s not reasonable to charge you with special projects when you’re getting time sucked into these meetings that are not worth it.

05:02 – Step 3 – Cut one of the worst meetings 

Then the third step is to actually cut one of the worst meetings. Now, you and your boss can agree to do this. Once you do, you’re going to get a feel for what that’s like. My guess is with that extra time you’re going to be able to get to some really important projects, some really maybe important personal development training, or work development training that you should have been doing instead. Then at the end of this three-step process, you go back, you demonstrate that what’s happened is really a benefit to everybody involved and you tell your boss what’s happened.

05:23 – Demonstrate effectiveness and show your work to get others on board

While these steps may seem pretty simple, the reality is people don’t give themselves permission to actually do them. Something’s in the way. Maybe the culture won’t allow it to occur, but I can tell you that it is really worth fighting for, for yourself, and again, for your entire organization. Because if you simply punch it in and keep going to those bad meetings, the whole culture develops in that way. That’s really lousy for the entire organization. In parenthesis, right here, I’d love to say CEOs, senior, super senior leaders, directors, executive directors, whoever’s listening to this, please take heed. This is very low hanging fruit to actually really move your organization forward.

06:13 – Recap of 3 steps

Now let me take a moment to recap the three steps that will help you to stop the meeting madness and cut out your worst meetings today. Step number one, take a simple inventory of all the meetings that you’re in during the week. Step number two, measure the opportunity cost of bad meetings and then figure out some of those projects that you could be in that would actually be way more beneficial than wasting your time. Finally, step number three, and this is the big one, cut out your worst meetings.

06:43 – MLP 020: How To Measure The RFeal Cost Of A Meeting – 

If you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode, then you’re going to get a lot out of Episode 20 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called How To Measure The Real Cost Of A Meeting. You can get that episode by going to

06:59 – MLP 034: How to Measure The Annual Cost Of Meetings  –

After you listened to Episode 20, well you’re probably going to want to listen to Episode 34 because it’s called How To Measure The Annual Cost Of Meetings. You can get that episode by going to

07:12 – Meeting Leadership Academy –

I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now in there, I can tell you there’s great live training options for you and your team. I’m the instructor. I’m actually able to bring things each time we go that really move the needle in a short amount of time to help people go back and have significantly more productive meetings and really grow their leadership skills. If you’d like to learn more about that opportunity, please visit

If you’re already a subscriber, thank you so much. If you haven’t done it yet, take a moment to hit the Subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. Then, if you’re enjoying the show, or maybe even if you’re not, take a moment to leave a rating and review, and we’ll take that information in to really influence the future episodes on the podcast. As always, thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

08:09 – 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 rate 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

Gordon Sheppard

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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