Tips and Techniques
November 11, 2021

You Have to Buy Meetings From Now On

Bring radical improvement to your 'meeting culture' at work by deciding as a team the cost and value of all your meetings.

Go with me on this one for a minute. Imagine if whoever wanted you to turn up to their meeting, had to sell it to you first.

And, imagine if you had a meeting budget of, say, $100 a week. You could ‘spend’ your budget however you wanted… Maybe $20 a day? Or $50 on Tuesdays, but none on Mondays?

It depends on what the meeting is for, right? And yes, it depends on who’s there, and if it’s recurring… And yes, you’d need to work it out as a team, where you could make trade-offs, pool your budgets, and so on.

Know the opportunity cost and value of your meetings

Here’s my point: meetings cost, but we tend not to have a budget to pay for them. We optimise for blank spaces in the calendar, rather than for how best to spend our time.

Now, I'm not saying that we should have a knee-jerk reaction and burn all our meetings with eternal fire. Instead, we can use this thought experiment with our teams as a way to check if each meeting in our calendars is actually the best way to reach each outcome we need?

Some suggestions for applying this 'meeting budget' idea

Take a look at your calendar right now (really, go look! And then come back plz…). What might your meeting budget be? And how is the cost of those meetings stacking up against your budget? Could you separate your meetings into Musts and Maybes?

Think about the others you work with. Would they have the same 'meeting budget' to spend, or a different budget, according to their role? I'm a big believer that manager time is different to maker time. This might change the 'denominations' that different roles have to spend. Managers tend to need loads more 30 minute slots, whereas roles that need big uninterrupted chunks of time (such as designers, researchers, analysts and developers) would have less.

Make it easier to say no to meetings. Saying no to meeting invitations can be pretty hard for a number of reasons: FOMO, fear of offending, avoiding the cost of having to work out an alternative and just saying yes by default, to name a few. If as a team you can agree on a 'meeting budget', and how to spend that together, it can help everybody to communicate the purpose and outcome of each meeting better, and make it easier to push back on an invitation if this is ambiguous, or if an individual's 'budget' has been spent.

• • •

Change is usually a bit awkward at the best of times, but I hope this 'meeting budget' way of thinking can be a catalyst of healthy change in your team's or organisation's 'meeting culture'.

If you are interested in improving your team's meeting culture, register for the 'Better meetings for collaboration and engagement' class.

Project Insurance Pack

You need to set up your team to succeed. These 3 meeting guides will help you do just that. Included in the pack:

Project Kick-off Meeting Guide

Get a shared understanding before the project begins.

Project Pre-Mortem Meeting Guide

Identify what might go wrong and how you will avoid it.

Problem Framing Meeting Guide

Clarify the 'why' behind what your project is really for.

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