Should It be a Meeting or an Email?


It’s a question that I don’t think is asked frequently enough. We’re all busy people – trying to balance work, family, extra-curriculars, maybe school too. It’s frustrating when our mojo is thrown off by attending a meeting that should have been a simple email.


Your team’s time is valuable. Time wasted in a useless gathering is time away from other things that need to get done. If you can’t determine a real reason to get people together and get a sense of what people should get out of a meeting, forego the meeting.


If you decide you must meet, make it a decision-based instead of an information-based assembly. Don’t just “inform” or “assess” something. “Plan” or “decide” on something. Actionable words make progress, and the ultimate goal of meetings should be to decide or complete a task.


Here’s some other criteria that should be considered before planning a meeting instead of saying what you need to say in an email.


1. Someone important is there – Meeting


If someone who isn’t in the office frequently or an executive is in the building, no matter the simplicity of the questions, if they want a meeting to see employees face-to-face, that’s justification for a meeting. So go ahead, pull everyone from their desks, tell them to put on their best behavior, and impress the crap out of him/her.


2. It’s an HR issue – Meeting


Has some kind of discrimination been present in the workplace? A subject of equivalent seriousness where HR is getting involved warrants getting your team in one place to talk. These kind of allegations can break a company and its investigation (think Uber earlier this year).


3. Task reminders – Email


If you are managing a team and need to send out reminders to complete a task or deadline updates, do so in an email. Then not only are you leaving a paper trail, but you aren’t hassling your employees with getting together for a meeting that would only take a couple of minutes. Even if it’s a new task that you need completed, delegate that through email unless it’s extensive and there will be a lot of back and forth discussing the task.


4. You need input on an issue – Email first


If it’s not a life-changing issue, send an email out first to get input from colleagues. Only make it an in-person meeting if you’ve gone down the email route for that issue unsuccessfully.


5. Your team is starting a new project – Meeting


Get everyone together, go in-depth about the project purpose, goals, tasks, etc. and answer any questions in person. This is a good chance for employees to give their input on how a project should be completed and how tasks should be delegated.


Really, it’s as simple as asking yourself a couple of questions: “Would this meeting take less than five minutes?” and “Does it absolutely need to be said in person?”.


Thomas Sowell, an American economist, once said “People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything”.

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