A meeting is an investment. 

“An investment?” you ask. “Wait, how is that possible?”

Unless you’re travelling across the country to attend your meeting, you may not view it as an investment. After all, you may not see money being put down directly or the quantifiable results pouring out right away.

Even if you don’t have meetings that directly involve costs, your time and energy are also valuable assets to the organization. Spending your time in meetings is an investment towards a relationship, as well as an opportunity cost towards other tasks you could be working on. Being able to maximize on your meeting ROI is a sign your meetings are productive, engaging, and purposeful.

What is meeting ROI? 

ROI stands for “return on investment.” Most often, it measures the financial impact of an event by subtracting the event-related financial gains from the cost of actually attending the event, then dividing by the cost to attend the event. This leaves you with a percentage of how much of that initial investment you recovered. The higher the ROI, the better!

With meetings costing companies an average of $43,008 – $56,448 USD per manager per year, it proves worthwhile to figure out how to get the most value from your meetings. Ideally, you can use your meetings to directly or indirectly earn additional revenue worth the cost of your meetings, plus more if you aim for a higher ROI. More specifically, you can earn direct revenue during or shortly after the meeting because of the meeting, and you can earn indirect revenue in another manner, like by a referral to a new client, partially because of the meeting. 

Great meetings are just the start

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How to get better ROI for your meetings  

1 Do a technology test before the meeting

Not testing your technology ahead of time is the equivalent to watching your ROI consistently and slowly drop with each minute of mid-meeting technical failures that ticks by. 

This is true for every meeting but especially true when meeting clients or employees for the first time. Positive first impressions are essential and can already be difficult to establish in the virtual business world. 

Rather than switching to the latest tech frequently, setting yourself up with a tried-and-true set of tech to support your remote work will make it easy to log into calls confident that you’re not going to have any technical failures. It also shortens your pre-meeting testing time, so you can focus more on other tasks. 

2 Define a clear meeting objective

To effectively generate ROI from your meeting, you have to have a specific meeting objective or purpose. The purpose should be measurable so you can easily identify if you completed the purpose or not by the end of the meeting. When building your agenda, you’ll find that the purpose will help you establish specific goals for the meeting and boost productivity to keep your meeting on track and on topic.

Some examples of measurable objectives include:

  • Getting approval on a document, item, topic, etc.
  • Generating a plan for an aspect of a future project
  • Brainstorming X amount of ideas
  • Discussing a topic for constructive feedback

3 Create a collaborative meeting agenda

The meeting agenda is where you break down your purpose or meeting objective into smaller tasks or discussion areas. It can also help you create talking points, manage action items, and track due dates to keep your projects organized. 

A collaborative meeting agenda brings your team together to build the agenda. Getting feedback and ideas for discussion topics from team members can ensure that participants are engaged and feel involved in the discussion. It can also be an easy way to brainstorm new ideas for the agenda.

4 Assign meeting roles 

Assigning meeting roles can improve efficiency by dedicating responsibilities, talking times, and action items. It also helps improve accountability on pre-meeting and post-meeting tasks. To avoid falling into a sleepy routine, you can also rotate roles amongst your team members so everyone has a chance to do something new each meeting. Here are 8 examples of meeting roles you can assign:

  1. Organizer
  2. Host
  3. Note-taker
  4. Time-keeper
  5. Decision maker
  6. Voice of the customer
  7. Optional attendees
  8. Informed participants

5 Consider time zones

To maximize the output of your meeting, it’s essential to pick a time when employees are going to be alert, engaged, and productive. Today, many remote teams are dispersed across multiple time zones, which can make it challenging to choose times that work well for everyone. At minimum, make sure you’re not choosing times super early in the morning (before 8am) or late at night (beyond 8pm), as employees are less likely to be engaged outside of that 8-8 window. 

That being said, some cultures do account for working hours differently. If you’re working on an international team, check in with meeting participants to confirm the working hours that work best for them. Additionally, most virtual calendars also allow you to set your own working hours so other meeting organizers don’t accidentally book a call outside of your productive hours. 

6 Invite only those who need to attend

Overloading the amount of participants means either that every participant gets less time to speak, or your meetings become longer. Critically thinking about who needs to be in your meeting is helpful to limit the number of attendees. Use the eight meeting roles above to ensure that all attendees are assigned a role. Have some people with no role? Try recording the meeting and sharing it with them afterwards to keep them informed without slowing down the pace of the live meeting.

7 Start and end on time 

Maximizing your allotted meeting time helps you make the most out of your meeting. Testing your technology before joining the call limits the risk of delay in starting the meeting. Once in the meeting, rely on your agenda to ensure that you’re on track and cruising through your discussion topics at a good speed. 

If you’re struggling to wrap up meetings on time, try allocating a specific amount of minutes to each topic in your agenda. You should also be cognizant of when you’re getting off topic, and table those points for discussion in future meetings or for offline conversations. 

8 Take meeting minutes 

While a meeting agenda outlines the plan for the call, meeting minutes track what actually happened. Using meeting minutes provides a ton of benefits, including:

  • Allowing you to measure if your meetings have started and ended on time
  • Recognizing who attended the meetings
  • Ensuring accountability for what happened and what takeaways or action items were identified
  • Enabling those who couldn’t attend the meeting to stay informed
  • Providing the ability to identify new discussion topics for future meetings

9 Send a meeting follow-up 

Just as you should plan ahead of the meeting for a productive use of time during the call, you can also leverage more out of your meeting by following up after. Following up can help foster good relationships with participants, enforce accountability for action items, and remind attendees of the purpose of and takeaways from the call. 

After the meeting, send a follow-up meeting with the high-level overview of the discussion. First, include your appreciation for them attending the meeting and thank them for their time. Then follow with a review of the purpose, talking points, takeaways, and next steps that were discussed. As part of your next steps you should also add in the next meeting date so your attendees can begin to prepare if needed. 

Meeting agenda templates to increase your meeting ROI

Parting advice 

Your time is an incredible, valuable asset. Learning how to make the most of your meeting times will boost relationship quality, create more efficient discussions, and allow your projects to stay on track. You may also find yourself pulling a higher quantifiable result as a consequence! This is your meeting ROI, and it’s possibly one of the most important metrics in meeting management. 

To secure the highest meeting ROI possible, ensure you’re approaching all your meetings with a clear purpose, measurable goals, and thoughtfully prepared communication and engagement plans. Soon, you’ll be seeing that ROI percentage climb and climb!