Who stole my calendar? – The Economic Impact of Bad Meetings

Like many others who have worked in advertising and the corporate world for quite some time, I hate having unproductive meetings for meetings sake. Unfortunately I find the vast majority just that; inefficient and under productive.

No agenda, no defined outcome, no preparation points distributed beforehand, no clock to track the time but yet just a big block of colour standing its ground on my calendar that distracts me from being productive……….sound familiar?!


This post is about two things:

  1. The economic impact of bad meetings
  2. Tips to maximise the success of a meeting in terms of time efficiency and outcome.

1. The economic impact of bad meetings

“An epidemic of bad, inefficient, overcrowded meetings is plaguing the world’s businesses — and making workers miserable.” David Grady
Below is a pretty impactful infographic created by Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, makers of Basecamp and other web-based collaboration tools, and co-author of “Rework” and David Grady, who is an Information Security Manager and self proclaimed ‘crusader of helping you take back you calendar’. Both have spoken at TED.
The economic impact and wastage is pretty clear from the graphic below! 
The economic impact of bad meetings

 5 Tips to maximise the success of a meeting

The points below seem obvious and are obvious yet they are often forgotten or not followed. Follow and use them and your time will be more productive. 

  1. Agenda: Have a bullet point agenda that is distributed to all people prior to your meeting – if you are just an attendee then request an agenda from the meeting lead.
  2. Outcome: Have a defined outcome for the meeting and give everyone visibility of what it is –  if you are just an attendee then find out what the desired outcome of the meeting is either before it begins or at the very beginning.
  3. Planning: This one is really dependent on the business nature of the meeting, however particularly for internal meetings it can be useful to circulate key documents prior to the meeting.
  4. Time: Have a clock and set time and action point deadlines for the meeting. Also prior to booking in a meeting really consider the necessity of whether the meeting needs to be drawn out for hours – the likelihood is that it doesn’t. People’s energy levels flag, ideas and motivation run dry over time. If it does need to be a long meeting then ensure you have small breaks throughout to break up the day.
  5. Conclude action points: Conclude the key outcomes from the meeting with clearly defined action points detailing who is doing what and in what timeframe. Again, depending on the nature of the meeting, it is often useful for the meeting lead to detail these points in a concise bullet point email or contact report.

Taking back your mornings

The infographic created by Entrepreneur titled ‘Taking back your mornings’ is well worth having a read of. We all suffer from less than productive mornings from time to time – the infographic provides a bit of a cheat sheet in terms of what to do and what not to do in order for us to remain focused and productive after our morning dose of caffeine.

Couple of TED Talks on Productivity

Below are a couple of short TED Talks that may inspire you to have a more productive approach to meetings and also to work in general.

David Grady: How to save the World (or at least yourself) from bad meetings

Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

I hope you found this useful and interesting. Please share any tips you have on being more productive below.

About the author
Si Muddell is a Digital Strategist who has worked extensively both agency and client side. Si is fascinated about marketing, psychology & what motivates people, and loves guitar, surfing and travelling.

Get connected with Si on TwitterLinkedIn &

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