That Meeting Could Have Been An Email

With the largest Work From Home exercise happening worldwide due to the coronavirus, both employees and employers are starting to find out just how effectively we can all still get work done even remotely.

Whether physically in the office or conferencing over Zoom, meetings can be painful but they're an unavoidable part of our work culture. Meetings tend to be typically longer than they need to be, peppered with a lot of redundant chatters and irrelevant conversations. There are many ways we can do our part to make these meetings and group conference calls more bearable; by being on point, succinct and structured so that we can all promptly get back to completing tasks at hand.

Here are four quick rules to start creating an efficient meeting culture:

First things first, decide if you really need the meeting before setting one up. You, yes you, don't be that person.

1. Purpose of Meeting

Have a clear objective, and indicate them in the subject line. What are you trying to accomplish in this meeting - Generate new ideas? Gather information? Make a decision? Or a combination of all three? Meetings are not social gatherings, and it has to be goal-oriented. This ensures everyone comes prepared with a definitive idea of what's expected during the session.

2. Preparing for Meetings

Most employees tend to come for meetings completely unprepared. People have the impression that they come into meetings to only start talking ideas out. Instead, insist that everyone jots down a few top-line ideas ready to be discussed when they come into the room. Collate the points, email these points out so all attendees can start thinking about them before the meeting too. This leaves room in the meeting for everyone to get down to business and expand or counter the ideas with their own.

3. Setting an Agenda (And Keeping To It!)

A meeting with a strict set of agenda can easily cut the time in half. Be clear about the topics needed to be covered. Start the meeting by going over the objective once again.

Follow the 2-minute rule when opening the floor for someone to make a point or debate, and reinforce this housekeeping practice throughout the meeting. You'd be surprised how a time limit forces one to think and expresses opinion logically, leaving no time to banter.

4. End with a 'Next Steps'

Buffer in the last ten minutes of your meeting agenda to end with an action plan. This should include who is responsible for what action or follow up, and when the deadlines are. Remember the 3 Ws - Who, What, When.

Now if that meeting or conference really should have been an email, here's a quick and simple one on creating an efficient email culture, the Email Subjects:

Email Subjects

While we're at the subject of emails - see what I did there? - make it a habit to insert a Call-To-Action on the subject header so your recipients can quickly understand exactly what you expect out of that email. E.g. "Need your edits on said blog post by Mon, 4 pm". Influence others to do the same to ensure the email addresses what the subject intends. Not only does this little practice keeps the thread in line, but it also saves time and frustrations when searching for topics within the email later on.

Keep this in mind, and you’re all set to go: Meetings - start with a goal, and you'll always finish with success.

Now that we've already established most meetings could have been an email, ever wondered what else could have been?

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