You wake up on a Monday morning, go to work, turn on your computer (or go downstairs and open your laptop… Welcome to 2021) and, in your email, you see “Meeting Scheduled for Next Week”.
Oh, great, yet another meeting.
What’s even worse is that it’s a whole week away which means you have to possibly prepare for said meeting and be stressed by its impending date. Let’s face it, meetings are time-consuming and not always productive.
Yet, so many companies, organizations, and small teams feel like they are worth it.
Truth be told, sometimes it’s imperative to communicate a particular topic or idea to everyone at the same time.
No one has time to send out a crazy number of memos to each team member but if you can sit everyone down and talk about those points, then you can save precious time? Right?
Otter.ai sifted through dozens of reports and studies to find evidence to prove how much of a time-waster meetings are.
The most shocking proof was that “67% of employees complain that spending too much time in meetings hinders them from being productive at work.” They also found that “most employees attend 62 meetings per month, where half of the meetings are a complete waste of time.”
At some point, we have to ask ourselves, “When is enough enough!?”
Sure, eliminating meetings altogether is not the way to go, but the fact of the matter is, some meetings could simply have been an email.
So, we’re going to help you out and give you the 7 warning signs that your “meeting” should really be an email.
#1 - You Only Have a Few Points to Cover
Why go through the stress of rallying everyone together, sending reminders, and making sure everyone is aware of the topics to be discussed if you only have two or three topics to discuss?
It sounds ridiculous now, but far too many companies do this. A quick email with two or three bullet points is enough to get the point across.
#2 - The Information is Only For a Select Few
Far too often do employees find themselves in a meeting where the topic at hand has nothing to do with them or the work they’re doing. Instead of dragging unnecessary parties out of their groove, just send an email to the relevant people.
#3 - You Only Want Project Updates and Feedback
Needing updates or feedback from team members is not a good enough reason to host a meeting. Asking for feedback via email isn’t just a time-saver, it can also be more productive.
When members have time to respond in their own time, their feedback is likely to be more thoughtful and quite possibly much more helpful.
#4 - You Recently Had a Meeting
Let’s be real, having a meeting more than once a week is usually an overkill. If you recently had a meeting, odds are not too much was completed since then. Holding yet another meeting could prove to be unnecessary, especially if no one has new information to share.
It’s best to space them out and allow enough time in between for members to work and generate more info to share. Send emails in the meantime to check on everyone’s progress.
#5 - Everyone Was Individually Made Aware of the Information
It’s not abnormal for everyone to have discussed certain topics amongst themselves. Most times, information is passed via word-of-mouth. If that’s the case, you can avoid having the meeting and instead send out an email asking the team if they are privy to the information with additional necessary points. Or, ask yourself if the meeting topic is something that could be discussed via webinar - so the information is always accessible.
#6 - You Have a Quick Update
If you have a quick update to give, you don’t need to call a meeting to make everyone aware. An email blast to relevant individuals is good enough to get your point across.
#7 - You Aren’t Willing To Fully Prep for the Meeting
If you do decide to have a meeting, you should be willing to do everything necessary to make it a productive and successful one. That includes drafting your meeting goals, discussing those goals with the right people, inviting the right people, distributing meeting notes afterwards, and on and on it goes.
If you aren’t willing to go the extra mile to make it awesome, then save yourself the trouble and send an email instead.
And if you’re hosting a virtual meeting, you might want to add a few more things to that to-do list like being sensitive to everyone’s time zones, finding the right platform for the meeting, making sure everyone has working mics/cameras, etc.
How to Make a Work Email Awesome
Now that you know what to look for when choosing between having a meeting and sending an email, you now need to know how best to go about drafting that email. It’s no secret that communication in the workplace can be a tricky thing.
Tone, word usage, formal language, and much more can make or break work relationships. So here are a few pointers...
1) Avoid Using Informal Language
No one wants to be uptight all day every day at work, and while it’s perfectly fine to let your hair down every once in a while, it most certainly should not happen during written correspondences.
That’s because one is almost impossible to discern in written words. The most simple colloquial term could be taken offensively and unfortunately. You can never really tell if or when that may happen. It’s best to simply avoid informal language and keep it strictly professional.
2) Keep Them Short and Sweet
No one wants to read an essay-length email. If you can keep it short and sweet, do so! According to SleekNote, the ideal work email is between 50 - 125 words. Be sure to stick to the main points and avoid running on.
3) Rely on Bullet Points and Numbers
Even if you only have 50-125 words, it’s still a good idea to break up the text a little bit so your main points are easily digestible and easier to respond to.
You can do this by adding your main points or questions as bullet points or numbering them.
Not only is it easy to consume, but there’s a chance that it will stick in your reader’s memory. Not to mention that having bullet points is easier to respond to as opposed to having everything packed together in a paragraph.
4) Don’t Write At All
The best way to send out a work email without having to think about the best way to write it or having your team members guess at your tone, is to send them a video email. That’s right, video emailing is a thing.
Recording your screen with audio and webcam is the perfect way to convey your message visually. With a free screen recorder, you can ensure that your tone is heard (and not read), and you don’t have to waste time thinking about what to write and how.
Whether you type it out or send a video, in a lot of cases, emailing can be far more productive than planning and hosting meetings. So, the next time the thought crosses your mind to host a meeting, ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary and keep an eye out for the seven warning signs that it should be an email instead.
About the Author
Gerry is a marketing copywriter and content strategist at ScreenRec. Huge fan of working smart, she is constantly looking for new tools and techniques to be more productive and use her time better.