Millions of Naira are wasted in unnecessary meetings in organizations across Nigeria, every day. The reason why most people do not see this wastage is that they do not understand that the time spent in unnecessary meetings is money lost. 

In a survey that was reported in Industry Week, 2000 managers claimed that at least 30 per cent of the time they spent in meetings was a waste. According to a 3M Meeting Network Survey of Executives, 25 to 50 per cent of the time that people spend in meetings is wasted. And, according to a survey by Office Team, a division of Robert Half International, 45 per cent of senior executives surveyed said that their employees would be more productive if their firms banned meetings for at least 1day a week.

Look at it this way. If 20 people in your organization who earn 200,000 Naira per month spend 2 hours every day in unnecessary meetings, they cumulatively would waste 800 man-hours a month. That is 9,600,000 Naira per year. If you add the time wasted in traffic, commuting to those meetings, your company may be losing as much as 20,000,000 Naira every year on unnecessary meetings. Imagine the loss to a large organization where this happens with 200 staff rather than 20, that company will easily be losing a whopping 200,000,000 Naira every year to unnecessary meetings. 

The extrapolation gets even scarier when one tries to calculate how much revenue the entire country loses to unnecessary meetings every year. It will definitely run into billions of dollars.

So, the ability to recognize and cut out unnecessary meetings is a very important skill for everyone in your company. Here are a few tips that can help you discover meetings that will be potential time-wasters.


There Is No Agenda


This happens too often in Nigeria. If you get invited to a meeting that has no clear agenda, you will most likely waste a lot of time at that meeting. Not having an agenda means it will be difficult to focus the meeting and a lot of time will be wasted on trivialities. 


There Are too many People

If you have more than 8 people in a decision-making meeting, you are most likely wasting some people’s time. How many people will probably talk in a 1-hour meeting? It is important that you know how to control the number of people that will attend meetings in your organization so that you do not waste time and money. This interesting Harvard Business Review essay will help you learn more about getting the right size of people for your meetings.


It Is too Frequent

If meetings are too frequent, you should be worried. Is the convener incompetent? Is it necessary at all? Are there more effective ways to communicate rather meet all the time? This of course also applies to conference calls and virtual meetings. 

It Is just a Ceremony

“Oh, it is our daily status meeting, we must do it, that is what the head office wants.” Listen up. The truth is you did not hire people to meet, you hired them to work—stop the meetings, get to work! Consider sending status emails over holding status meetings.


It Could Have Been Sent as an Email

The next time you sit in a meeting and think to yourself, ”Why couldn’t this be sent as an email?”, please make sure you respectfully ask that question of the convener after the meeting and save everybody’s time in the future. 


It Was Called at short notice

Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja, writes, “Meetings that are called with little notice, usually aren’t meetings. They are usually knee-jerk responses to a problem. They should probably be a conversation between the involved individuals rather than a meeting.” This may seem like a fine distinction, but many managers react to small issues by “gathering the entire team.” Need I say more?


Usually Full of Joking and Non-work Banter

It was billed as a 1-hour meeting about updates on the next advertising campaign for your company’s chewing gum brand, but you are into the third hour now and the boss is still going on about how President Buhari should fight corruption, or everybody is laughing over some hilarious scene in the last episode of Game of Thrones series. Sorry to break it to you this way but that is a waste of everybody’s time. You should find a smart way to pass that feedback to your boss or whoever is the convener of that meeting. It is wrong to fritter people’s time away. Save chit-chats for the pub.


Too much Time Is Allocated

Research shows that the attention span of the average adult is about 1 hour. Meetings that last more than 1 hour are usually not so productive. Try to make sure you fit all you want to discuss in a meeting into 1 hour. You will find that if the convener plans well for a meeting this is usually possible. Meetings that are too long are so because the convener did not prepare. 


Written by: Buari Kehinde