You may have seen articles, memes, Facebook posts, or even flowcharts and infographics all dedicated to this one question:
“Could this meeting have been an email?”
While it’s tempting to chuckle and go about your business as usual, the fact that so many people feel the same way should tell us it’s time to pause and reevaluate. If you’re hiring to fit within your organization, that should mean that your team is made up of people you respect and trust — and if they think certain meetings are unnecessary, it’s a good idea to investigate.
This blog post is designed to help you with that investigation. While many meetings are necessary, there’s a good chance you could foster more productivity and engagement within your team by eliminating some of them.
What is the purpose of this meeting?
Take a look at the meetings you hold each week within your company. Are they recurring? If so, what is their purpose? Are you holding meetings simply for the sake of holding them?
While a weekly staff meeting seems par-for-the-course, it’s important to make sure there’s a legitimate purpose to them, and that they don’t come at the expense of your team’s productivity. Take a look at the meetings you hold and think about why they occur:
- Are they for sharing information?
- Are they for gathering feedback?
- Are they for weekly updates, and, if so, do these updates require action from your team?
If a meeting occurs for the sole purpose of gathering or doling out information that could be easily shared via email or file sharing platform, it’s likely that it could be eliminated. Think about how much time it takes to review a file compared to the time it takes to gather for, conduct, and return to work from a meeting. How much of that time could be used for productivity?
Does this topic benefit from in-person dynamics?
The most effective meetings are often the ones that are enhanced by the gathering of people. Brainstorming sessions, discussions of complex issues, and decision-making are all examples of meetings that are made better by being together. Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are integral in understanding meaning and are things that can help avoid miscommunication. The energy that comes from bouncing ideas off of one another is almost impossible to replicate via email or messenger, and should certainly be nurtured in an in-person meeting.
These types of meetings are also made more effective when the relative information is shared previously. When your team can process the information privately before the meeting commences, you’ll spend less time on explanations and more time on action.
Does this meeting have a clear agenda?
Does your meeting have a structure that leads to a clear, attainable goal? If not, we recommend taking a closer look at the purpose of your meeting and doing a little more preparation.
Meetings without a definable structure run the risk of taking excessive chunks of time out of the workday. Having an agenda the whole room can follow will help keep the meeting on track, efficient, and useful.
Again, if the goal of this meeting is simply a status update — especially when the update is “no change” — you would be doing your team a favor to update them via email or project management software.
Keep the meetings you need.
This post isn’t suggesting you scrap all of your meetings! Far from it. By evaluating the meetings you hold, and determining which ones to keep and which ones to convert to email or written communication, you’ll be able to preserve your team’s dynamic energy for when it’s most effective.