How to supercharge productivity and drive efficiencies

Employees take part in a virtual meeting
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Everyone in the workforce has attended at least one mandatory work meeting that wasn’t relevant to their work. For employees, these unnecessary meetings are frustrating and cut into their productivity. But for employers, they’re even more costly.

In fact, businesses are actually wasting millions, if not billions, of dollars annually on unnecessary meetings, paying an average of $25,000 yearly per professional employee to attend such meetings.

At a time when economic pressures are forcing businesses to do more with less, that’s an incredible amount of money that companies could put to better use if only they had modernized their meeting culture and better leveraged new technologies. Let’s explore how businesses can cut down the costs of unnecessary meetings.

Create feedback channels for impactful change

Business leaders may understand the ins and outs of their company, but they’re likely not aware of exactly how often employees attend meetings that are irrelevant to their work. For example, employees report that they wanted to decline 31% of meeting invitations but they actually only decline 14% of them.

Therefore, the first step in revamping meeting culture to drive productivity and cut costs is to create channels for feedback. This can be fairly easy - simply by asking employees themselves. Also, pay close attention to any regularly scheduled meetings and ask whether attendees believe those meetings are needed to accomplish their goals. With professionals spending around 5.7 hours per week in unnecessary meetings, the more non-critical meetings that they can cut from their schedule, the more time they’ll have to focus elsewhere.

Sam Liang

Sam Liang is the founder and CEO of

Leave room for employees to opt-out

One of the most important aspects when it comes to modernizing meeting culture is allowing employees to opt out of unnecessary meetings. Now, existing company policies may already stipulate that employees have this permission, but even if the policy on the books makes these allowances, company culture may not reflect it.

The fact is that many people say yes to meetings that aren’t relevant to their work because that’s the workplace norm; nearly 80% of companies fail to discuss the concept of declining meetings with their employees. Often, employees fear that declining meeting invitations might offend the person who organized the meeting or make their coworkers think less of them.

To empower professionals to say no to irrelevant meeting invites, a top-down approach is essential: Instruct managers to talk to their staff about when and how they can decline meetings, as well as modelling that behavior themselves. In addition, note that women are more inclined to accept meetings they don’t feel are necessary than men. To counteract this effect, efforts must be inclusive and emphasize everyone’s right to decline meeting invitations when appropriate.

Trim meeting invite lists

Most meeting organizers create meeting lists by inviting anyone who’s at all impacted by the subject matter of the meeting. But clearly, this approach isn’t working. Even if you foster an environment where declining invites is acceptable (as you should), it’s still essential to trim down meeting invite lists in the first place. Ideally, organizers should only invite team members who are both directly affected by the meeting agenda and able to contribute to the conversation.

A good way to test the relevance of invite lists is to review the list for a recent meeting:

  • Did all of the attendees participate in the discussion?
  • Were all of the attendees able to apply the information from the meeting to their work? 
  • Did all of the attendees contribute to achieving the desired objective of the meeting?

If the answer is “no” to one or more of these questions, the invite list probably included people who didn’t need to attend.

Implement processes for communication and collaboration beyond meetings

While paring down invite lists ensures that every meeting is attended only by those whose presence is critical, it will also mean that there are now employees who don’t make the list, but who still might benefit from knowing the meeting’s key takeaways. To ensure communication and collaboration beyond the parameters of the physical meeting, it’s essential to implement processes that ensure everybody is kept in the loop. For example, by sharing quality meeting notes and summaries.

The mistake many meeting organizers make is only sending notes to meeting attendees. Instead, notes should be sent to anyone who might benefit from the information, regardless of whether they attended the meeting. Meeting notes and summaries can be a way to quickly make meeting information accessible to more people. And when employees know they can view comprehensive meeting notes, they’re less likely to waste time attending irrelevant meetings: 71% of employees would feel empowered to skip unnecessary meetings if they had access to high-quality meeting notes. By sharing rich meeting notes promptly, you can ensure that employees have access to important meeting content, even if they don’t end up attending the meeting.

AIs vital role in supercharging meetings

Whilst a change of attitude towards meetings is required, technology too has an essential role to play in modernizing meetings. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, is an enabler of a revamped meeting culture. Smart AI meeting assistants are designed to automate the meeting process from start to finish by assisting with the organizing, conducting and summarizing of meetings. So when it comes to providing employees with the option to opt out of a call and keeping them in the loop with quality meeting notes after, AI can automate this process. Companies that adopt AI to support their meetings will be able to further supercharge the efficiency and productivity gains of a shift in meeting culture.

Understand that modernizing meeting culture is a marathon, not a sprint

New ways of working are never perfect on the first draft, revisiting the topic with employees down the line is vital. By checking in and asking for honest feedback, you can find gaps in order to make additional improvements.

It’s clear that organisational efficiencies and productivity are taking a hit, both in and out of meetings and it’s time for organisations to change this. Shifting meeting culture to match modern working practices can counteract the 31% of meetings that are currently deemed ‘unnecessary’.

While this is a marathon and not a sprint, start by opening the conversation on what does and doesn’t work, then empower employees to ‘opt out’ when it suits them. By taking a fresh approach to meetings (trimming invite lists and improving post-meeting communication) and augmenting the process with innovative AI meeting assistants, we can further drive the savings in terms of time and money of a modernized meeting culture.

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Sam Liang is the founder and CEO of, a leading tool for meeting transcription, summarization, and collaboration.