Why Meetings Suck (Costs) & How to Reveal It

I've sat through nearly 10,000 meetings in my career. Think how much money was spent across those meetings! A free tool to help capture and report these costs.

“We’re going to continue meeting 3 times a day until we figure out why costs are rising!”

I’ve sat through nearly 10,000 meetings in my career. Wow. Ten thousand meetings. I came to this calculation by estimating 15 meetings a week, multiplied by approximately 47 working weeks a year, every year of my career. Think of how much money was spent across those meetings!

Meetings Suck Costs

The Hidden Costs of Meetings

When it comes to aspects of business that suck, there are few vacuums larger than meetings. It is simply too easy to call a meeting without realizing the real costs of that meeting. Fore example, have you considered the average cost per hour of each person in the meeting? What about the costs for anyone traveling to attend that meeting? These costs are multiplied when such meetings become frequent or recurring.

Costs to Consider

In order to assess the real cost of a meeting, you need to consider the following items:

1. Duration: How long is the meeting?

2. Number of Attendees: How many people will be in the meeting?

3. Hourly Rates: What is the (estimated) hourly rate of each attendee?

4. Travel Costs: Is there airfare, auto rentals, hotel or other associated costs for the meeting?

5. Food: Is the meeting over a meal?

Meeting Cost Estimator Tool

Throughout those 10,000 meetings, I can honestly say that many were necessary. Yet, there were also many unnecessary meetings. In fact, many meetings could have been avoided if the organizer (myself included) considered the hidden costs. Therefore, to help me recognize the hidden costs of each meeting, I created a simple tool. This spreadsheet enables anyone to quickly and easily estimate the costs of a meeting. I’m sharing the tool here with you and included a bonus sheet to estimate the total number of meetings you attended. All you need do is populate the details listed above in the spreadsheet and it calculates the overall cost of the meeting.

Meeting Costs Estimation Tool: Excel 2007+
Meeting Costs Estimation Tool: Excel 97 – 2003

Question: Do you find it easier to avoid unnecessary meetings when the true costs are revealed?

Meeting Costs Estimation Tool:


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

2 thoughts on “Why Meetings Suck (Costs) & How to Reveal It”

  1. and then we really allow the worms to escape the can,  and we assess the opportunity cost,  plus frequently the lost productivity as a result of emotional wear and tear  …

    I created a simple meeting planning tool to share with my clients some hers back,  and the cost of the meeting is there for all to see  –  amazing how much urgency that can create  (especially in assessing who needs to be at the meeting,  or whether it is necessary at all)

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