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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, extracurricular, and 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 are 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 kinds 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 to be 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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Duane “DJ” Sprague is a conversion rate expert, a Certified Behavioral Design Coach by the Online Influence Institute, and a certified expert by the Behavioral Design Academy, the Mindworx Academy, and the Interaction Design Institute. As CMO of a billion-dollar national franchise, he leveraged the power of social proof and online reviews to improve SEO and accelerate growth, as he developed and managed a comprehensive online reputation management strategy that spanned nearly 200 websites. He has written for Forbes, Small Biz Daily, and several industry trade magazines, contributed to several books and university course packs, and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as a subject matter expert. He holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and has received the 1st Place Gold Award in a global integrated marketing competition. Duane is the CMO of Shopper Approved, where he works with thousands of ecommerce websites to improve their SEO and CRO.

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