a reader of EffectiveMeetings.com, you’re obviously concerned about inefficient
meetings that waste both your time and your company’s money. If they’re conducted
properly, meetings can and will make you (and your organization) function more
efficiently. So the next time you’re asked about why you bother holding meetings,
think of all the time and money-wasting activities that could be minimized or
eliminated with a meeting.
has made this a familiar game for most of us. We all know
how frustrating it is to call someone, leave a message, move
away from your desk momentarily, and return to find a message
from that person. Phone tag can last for several rounds, leaving
both players immensely frustrated. If you’re trying to reach
someone, it can save time and headaches to simply schedule
a quick in-person or audio meeting at a time appropriate for
both of you.
Love it or hate it, we’ve all come to rely on e-mail for the
majority of our communications. How many times have you found yourself e-mailing
a question out of sheer habit to someone working 10 feet away? Obviously, e-mail
is invaluable when you’re communicating over long distances, or if you need
to send information to more than one person, or if you need a request in writing.
But there are plenty of other situations in which we use e-mail when a face-to-face
meeting would be much more effective.
Have you ever spent 15 minutes writing an e-mail on a topic that would have
taken you two minutes to discuss in person? Or sent an e-mail on an urgent issue
and stared impatiently at your monitor waiting for a response? In these instances,
wouldn’t it be quicker and easier to schedule a meeting to discuss the issue?
That way you can clarify any murky points, receive instant feedback, and engage
all relevant parties at once.
Generally, e-mails will summarize issues rather than discuss them in depth.
In many instances, a summary is all that’s required, but if you need to discuss
an issue in depth, a meeting is usually the best alternative.
Because e-mails are written, it can be hard to pick up on the intended tone.
Without vocal intonations and physical gestures, the underlying meaning of a
message can be lost or misinterpreted. And while many people use e-mail "emoticons"
to compensate, they’re not really a substitute for the real thing. If you are
discussing a sensitive issue, it’s always better to do so face-to-face.
The Paper Trail
We’ve all heard the myth of the "paperless office," but
looking at the mountain of paper that’s engulfing your workspace, how many of
us actually believe it? In fact, studies have shown that the volume of paper
produced by businesses has increased rather than diminished in recent years.
Have you ever written a memo or report, then printed off 10 copies to give
to your colleagues for feedback? You end up with 10 edited copies that you have
to try and integrate into one cohesive document. Wouldn’t it save everyone time
(and paper) if you called a meeting with your team, collaborated with the live
document, and made your changes then and there?
It’s important to keep in mind that calling a meeting doesn’t always
have to be a major production. Keep it brief, focus on the issue at hand, and
concentrate on reaching a workable conclusion. Remember, scheduling a 15-minute
meeting can be a lot more effective than three e-mails, two missed phone calls,
and a paper report!
1. Steve Wilson