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How to Calculate and Reduce Meeting Cost + Free Calculators


According to and Dr. Steven G. Rogelberg, Professor of Organizational Science Management at UNC, companies invest around $80,000, on average, in “unnecessary” meetings per employee per year. And they could save approximately $25,000 or more per employee by reducing attendance. The report suggests that larger companies waste up to $100 million on unnecessary meetings per year. 

Rogelberg says that pulling teammates into unnecessary meetings can lead to boredom and frustration, which can affect productivity. Cutting non-mandatory meetings out of employees’ schedules creates more time to focus and engage in deep work that may benefit the company in a more significant way in the long run. 

Leadership teams often overlook the cost of meetings, as it’s assumed their price is built into the company’s operational budget. But once you break down these meetings by hour or even minute, you’ll see just how much money is going into them – and how most of them could, indeed, have been an email. 

Source: Flowtrace

Take a deeper dive into the cost of meetings – with the help of meeting calculators – and how you can do your part to reduce unnecessary spending on them.

Why Most Meetings Cost So Much

Meeting costs aren’t just based on one factor. They include setup costs and the price of teammate attendance. Costs can also change depending on meeting length and frequency. 

Meeting Setup Costs

When you’re looking at meeting costs with regard to setup, you’re typically looking at tangible costs. Think about things like digital tools and software, such as a video conferencing platform. Meeting setup expenses also include hardware costs for any necessary office equipment and the cost of operating within your meeting space.

However, for meetings like workshops, the time taken to set up a whiteboarding activity or other collaborative exercise should also be factored in.

Salaries of Meeting Attendees

The most important meeting cost to consider is your attendees’ time. When considering the overall cost of running your meeting, calculate your employees’ average hourly rate to figure out how much the meeting time is costing your organization.

Say you’re holding a half-hour ideation session with four other colleagues from your company. One meeting attendee is an executive and makes $200,000 yearly. You and another person are managers, making $100,000 each per year. The final two attendees are associates, making $50,000 each per year. Assume you’re all working full-time, 52 weeks per year, 40 hours each week. The hourly breakdown for each person would look like this:

  • 200,000 / 52 / 40 = $96.15 hourly
  • 100,000 / 52 / 40 = $48.08 hourly (x 2 for two people)
  • 50,000 / 52 / 40 = $24.04 hourly (x 2 for two people)

So, in total, a 30-minute meeting for the above five people would cost your organization roughly:

  • $48.08 + $24.04 + $24.04 + $12.02 + $12.02 = $120.20

And this is just salary expenses for attendees – this figure doesn’t include setup or equipment costs. Nor does it account for a meeting longer than 30 minutes.

Meeting Length and Frequency

Once you assign an average hourly value to your teammates’ time, it’s easier to see how meetings impact your organization’s bottom line. Meeting duration and frequency play an important role in this cost, as well. 

Obviously, if you hold three 30-minute meetings per week with the same people from the above example, the $120.20 you spent on one ideation session now becomes $360.60. An extra half-hour here or there may not seem like much at the moment, but these expenses can add up quickly.

To figure out your yearly meeting costs, combine all of the above factors into the following formula:

((# hours of meeting duration) x (meeting occurrences total)) x ((setup cost of meeting) + (attendee cost for length of meeting)) = yearly meeting cost

Using the example laid out previously, assume you plan on meeting with these same people once per week for a year, and your setup cost is $5. You can plug in the information to find how much these meetings are costing your organization:

(.5 x 52) x (5 + 120.20) = 26 x 125.20 = 3,255.20

So the 5-person, 30-minute ideation meetings you’re holding are costing you $3,255.20 per year.

The Best Meeting Cost Calculators

Want a quick and easy way to calculate the cost of your meetings? Try a few of these hand-picked meeting calculators that do the work of calculating everything for you. 

  • Meeting Cost Ticker: Input average hourly salary and number of teammates, and calculate how much your meeting is costing in real time.
  • Meeting Cost Live: Input the number of people in your meeting and their average gross salary in the currency of your choice.
  • Jonas Pfannschmidt Meeting Cost Ticker: Input team members in attendance by seniority level and salary – only available in USD.
  • Harvard Business Review Meeting Cost: Input the meeting duration in 15-minute increments, number of attendees, and salary estimate per attendee.
  • Meeting Cost Calculator: Sign in with Google or Outlook to use this paid tool that shows the total cost of meetings within an organization. 
  • Meeting King Calculate Meeting Cost: Input average salary, number of attendants, and duration of meeting to calculate meeting cost ahead of time.
  • Fellow’s Meeting Cost Calculator: Input number of participants, average annual salary, meeting duration, and number of meetings per week to find weekly and annual meeting costs; a browser extension is also available to view meeting costs live.
  • Ramp’s Meeting Cost Calculator: A Chrome extension that pairs with Google Calendar to translate meeting costs into real dollars and cents.

Not all meeting cost calculators are created equally, so think about how detailed you want to get in your projections. 

What You Can Do to Reduce Meetings (and Their Costs)

Employees spend more than one-third of their professional hours in meetings. On average, team members spend 18 hours of their workweek in meetings. These hours not only add up to a lot of wasted time but also wasted money. 

For example, using their new Meeting Cost Calculator, Shopify found that their average 30-minute meeting with three participants costs the company between $700 and $1,600.

With tools like Shopify’s and better planning on the front end, companies can see how reducing the amount of meetings they schedule can also reduce their spending.

Invite Fewer People

Smaller, more focused meetings engage participants more effectively. When there are larger groups, “social loafing” can occur. “Social loafing” is a term Rogelberg uses to describe how teammates may feel less inclined to actively participate during meetings with larger groups because they assume their contributions are not as meaningful or noticeable within said groups.

To cut down on social loafing, managers and meeting hosts should aim to keep attendee count to eight or fewer. 

Create a Better Meeting Plan

Before sending out meeting invites, develop a planning checklist:

  • Ensure the goal of your meeting cannot be accomplished by sending an email.
  • Think about your ideal meeting outcome and the role each attendee should play in reaching it. 
  • Include specific objectives so employees aren’t overwhelmed by disorganized information.
  • Plan meeting agendas using questions to be answered instead of bullet points to discuss. 

Employees believe 30% of the meetings they attend could have been declined as long as someone filled them in on any pertinent information. So, if you’re going to hold meetings, make sure to structure them for maximum effectiveness.

Time Is Money, Spend It Wisely

As Shopify CFO Jeff Hoffmeister says, “Time is money, and it should be spent on helping our merchants succeed and not on unnecessary meetings.”

By reducing unnecessary employee gatherings and using fewer company resources, you’re not only giving your team members their time back but also saving your organization a lot of money – a win-win by any measure. 

Try a meeting cost calculator to see the kind of money you’re currently putting into your team’s meetings. And for more advanced facilitators, discover Parabol’s 29 effective meeting tips to help you make better use of your company’s valuable time.

Tim Metz

Tim Metz

Tim Metz crafts content at Animalz for the world’s most amazing startups. He’s passionate about deep work and work-life balance.

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