06th Sep 2021
Meeting face-to-face or over Zoom helps us to understand other people’s points of view. But meetings can also be a complete waste of time...
The phrase “This meeting should be have been an email” has become the rallying cry of many office workers in modern times. People have included it in memes, and printed it on novelty posters, mugs and ties.
Meetings are a vital part of running a company, and often the only way to solve problems is to get the team together in a meeting and get it done. Meeting face-to-face, whether in reality or virtually, also helps us to understand other people’s points of view.
But meetings can also be a complete waste of time. More than half of meetings last between 30 minutes and an hour and more than 30 per cent of professionals in the UK have more than five meetings a week, according to Doodle’s 2019 State of Meetings report.
Bad meetings will cost companies $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K in 2020. According to research from Forbes, 27 per cent of all meeting time is wasted. That is a lot of money, time and resources that could be invested much more wisely.
So how do you know whether you should hold a meeting or just send an email? Check out these scenarios.
If you are holding a meeting to share information with staff, but no decisions need to be made at the meeting, then in the majority of cases, you do not need a meeting at all. Instead, you can email the information, and make yourself available if anyone has questions.
This way, people can read through the information in their own time. However, if decisions need to be made and several people need to make them quickly, then a meeting, whether that is in-person or through videoconferencing, is most appropriate.
You might need to share highly sensitive information with people, and doing so via email might not be appropriate.
This could concern a range of topics such as redundancies, closures, profit reports or promotions. In these cases, it is important to do it face-to-face in a meeting, although it can be appropriate to follow-up with email.
You haven’t met
A person might have recently joined your organisation and you want to meet them face-to-face instead of going over and back via email so you understand them better.
In these cases, it might be a good idea to go out for coffee or lunch to chat with them and start building a relationship, as opposed to sitting in a meeting room, unless you need to discuss confidential company matters.
Nothing has changed
At your last meeting, you agreed you would all meet again at X date and Y time to discuss next steps, but the status of the project has not moved at all since. In these cases, it is best to cancel or reschedule the meeting until progress is made.
You have already tried email
The email thread is 1,000 emails long. You have lost count of the amount of people replying. You vaguely remember what the initial topic was, and all you know now is that you have wasted a ton of time emailing and your inbox is clogged up from people sending “reply all” emails to ask everyone to stop sending “reply all” emails. It seems never-ending.
Archive the thread, set up a meeting with the top decision-maker and get this problem fixed now.
This article was originally published in February 2020
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