Association Management

Should This Meeting Be an Email?

By Najla Brown • October 4, 2022

Have you ever been sitting in a meeting and you think to yourself, “Why am I here? This could have been an email.”

Decades ago, email revolutionized the way we work. Similarly, virtual meetings helped us to quickly adapt when a pandemic shifted many workers into remote environments and has since allowed us to embrace flexible work arrangements. Virtual meetings are the new norm. Additionally, to support a range of work and communication styles, many companies have launched Teams, Slack or another collaborative tool. These complementary tools can aid in communication and alleviate the need to meet, similar to email. Yet, with all of these options to help us work more efficiently, why is our first reaction to schedule a meeting? 

The time has come to once again recognize the power of an email. An email, when well written, can control the messaging and save time, making it an ideal alternative to a meeting in particular cases.

Meetings and emails both hold importance depending on the topic being presented and who needs to be actively involved in the discussion. Meetings allow employees to ask real-time questions and create connections that can develop among team members. While messaging in an email should be straight to the point and should save your employees’ time to meet their deadlines.

Here are four key points to keep in mind before scheduling your next meeting:

  1. What is the agenda?
  2. Will this save your employees’ time?
  3. Is this a recurring topic?
  4. How many attendees are involved?

Let’s dive in –  

  1. What is the agenda?

Investing in creating an agenda can give you the guide for whether you need to send out meeting invites or write a detailed email. Agenda topics should outline participation expectations. During a meeting, you need to keep your attendees focused. If your agenda is thorough, this will be easy for attendees to understand the structure of the meeting.

After a meeting, the speaker may follow up with participants and send out an email to recap and clarify additional explanations. Is the discussion in the agenda simple enough to send bulleted points through an email? Decide what action items need to be covered to ensure the project moves along. 

If your agenda is short and sweet, an email will be the right path to give team members a plan of action. If your agenda requires full attention, you should expect employees to join a meeting to ask any questions and invite them to contribute to the discussion.

  1. Will this save your employees’ time?

Is a meeting worth taking up a large portion of your employees’ company time? This is a question to consider before deciding whether scheduling a meeting or sending an email is more beneficial. 

A poorly timed meeting can throw off an employee’s schedule and cause them to leave the important things on their to-do list for the end of the workday. Consider this, a meeting may be productive in one employee’s schedule, but that does not mean it’s productive for every team member who shows up. If an employee does not bring value to a meeting, make it clear that it is optional for people to attend the meeting.

An email should be quick and efficient to add new information, ideas or perspectives to the discussion. Will your employees have more questions after the email, which can ultimately lead to a meeting being put on their schedule? Or is the email easy to understand in terms of purpose and action items?

A meeting or an email can both hold a specific purpose in saving time, but you need to consider your employees’ schedules and communicate clearly on what medium will be the most efficient way to accomplish the tasks presented. 

  1.     Is this a recurring topic?

A weekly meeting can benefit your team to cover status updates and talk through ideas and solutions on the agenda. If this is a recurring topic, a weekly meeting is beneficial to deliver variables for ongoing projects. A recurring topic can be covered in a meeting to deliver points on continuous improvement for planning and problem-solving.

Some topics covered vary from key talking points for products or campaigns. The team will open the floor for any questions or concerns about the workload. Checking in during a weekly, bi-monthly or even quarterly meeting allows team members to feel connected and it continues strategic communication. 

A weekly email can ensure quick and clear reminders that provide practicality. However, the timely email may get lost in an inbox or even moved to junk if it becomes repetitive.  

  1. How many attendees are involved?

When the audience is small, a meeting can be beneficial for the group to communicate information back and forth without feeling intimidated. An email is great to pass along information to a big group of people to bring in individuals who can hold different knowledge in the decision-making process.

When you first decide how many individuals will be in attendance, that will determine the platform best fit for communication between the group. 

An email that can pass along knowledge without requiring participation between team members is great for a larger team.

Emails and meetings are both valuable resources for your company. If you are torn between which one to choose, keep in mind which platform is the best communication method for the agenda you created. Strategically match your goals to the medium that will create a productive and innovative solution to carry out success for your team.

About The Author

Najla Brown is a corporate marketing Specialist at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].