Could That Meeting Have Been an Email?

While meetings are a fact of office life (whether you’re physically in the office or work from home), many meetings actually aren’t necessary. In fact, meetings that waste time and accomplish little top the pet peeve list of both managers and employees. If you’ve ever been in a meeting where one or two people monopolize the conversation to little end, you may be one of them! 

Even short 15-minute meetings can go longer than they should, as people assemble, move chairs around, and take unproductive breaks. Could the information be put in a quick email instead? 

Meetings are best if you need real debate and dialogue about an issue – it’s an ideal setting for your team to hammer things out in person. But here’s how your team can tell if a meeting should happen or if all the information should occur in an email instead. 


If you need data or definitive answers.

Let’s say you need data from your team – sales figures, for example, or social media analytics. While data can be presented in a meeting, it might be a snooze fest. If your team gets data from an email, on the other hand, they have time to access what they need. They can also access the data at a time convenient for them. 

Similarly, if you want definitive answers, such as a “yes” or “no” to a proposal, it’s more productive to ask people to register their answer via email. 


If you need feedback on data or documents.

Feedback on any subject, whether it stems from data or documents, is more conveniently given and received via email. That way, your team can read the data and documents, consider their opinion, and present it to you, all electronically.  

Email also means that you’ll have their responses digitally in case you need it for documents and presentations going forward. 


If some team members aren’t available.

If team members are out of the office and you won’t have full attendance at a meeting, it’s not a good idea to schedule it, for several reasons. First, the material shared at the meeting won’t be shared fully! Second, if you’re soliciting opinions, you won’t be able to access the opinions of people not there. Third, if discussion is needed, ditto. 

You’ll also run the risk of those not at the meeting feeling resentment that they were left out, and of policies falling flat due to a lack of consensus. Either reschedule the meeting for times when you’ve got a full house or do it via e-mail. 


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