Thinking Out Loud

Meeting or Email?

I saw a coffee mug this morning that inspired my musing for today. It had printed on it “I survived another meeting that should have been email”. How often do you attend meetings and feel that nothing was accomplished or worse that your time was wasted?
It would be easy to roll out for you one of the ” 10 ways to make your next meeting productive” lists that proliferate on the internet but let’s be realistic. Even with an agenda and a time restriction, meetings get derailed. Email meetings can be focused but these also can go off on a tangent or get bogged down in details. Sometimes when the subject line changes, you lose the thread of the interactions.
What to do? How to choose the right answer?

One of the committees I serve on has one face to face meeting per year with three other meetings required by the constitution. The non face to face meetings have, in the past, been conducted as a teleconference limited to an hour’s duration. Last month we decided there was really nothing to be discussed that could not be covered in emails (a discussion we had via email) so we had our first designated “email meeting”. Minutes were still kept as a summary of the emails that went around over a 24 hour period. So, yes, it was still time limited, but it gave some of us with conflicting commitments the opportunity to still contribute to the discussion and decisions.

It seems to me, the time has come to really question the format of meetings and look to combinations of technology and organisational needs before making a set decision on how (and where) a meeting will be held.

P.S. I didn’t buy the coffee mug!!

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