Why meetings suck (especially now)

Meetings are the necessary evil of corporate life.

Yes, there are people who think meetings are a great way to get things done. These are the same people who love to “over communicate” as if it were a virtue. (Hint: It’s not.)

But why do meetings get so much hate? Why do people try to avoid them? And more importantly, how do they negatively impact a business?

First off, meetings are pretty expensive. To a business, time is literally money. If you invite 10 people to a two-hour meeting, and each person is being paid $30 an hour, then you’ve just cost your company $600. And if you turn that meeting into a weekly meeting, that’s a grand total of $31,200 across the entire year. Are your meetings really worth that much?

Think about it logically. What did your company get in return?

Most meetings don’t result in any tangible business benefit. The only exception is if you’re calling the meeting to make crucial decisions — and even then, you should only be inviting people who are actually involved.

Meetings also hurt employee morale. Few things drain an employee’s spirit faster than a calendar full of meetings. When you see your calendar full of meeting blocks, you just know that you’re not going to get any meaningful work done. Instead of doing your job, you’ll just be sitting in a room (physical or virtual) watching other people talk.

This emotional drop gets even worse if you don’t even need to be in those meetings. Meeting invitations from management are often mandatory, with no regard for your own schedule or level of contribution. The worst of these meetings are those that include you as “a show of force,” where the only reason you’re there is to keep your team from being outnumbered — as if you were in a street gang, not a business.

People are also getting “Zoom fatigue.” The pandemic-driven shift to remote work means that managers can’t call as many in-person meetings as before (if they can do so at all). So they’re scheduling remote conferencing calls instead. But they’re overcompensating. Badly.

Now, every discussion has to be done on Zoom. Employees’ calendars are full of daily standups, town halls, Zoom lunches, and 1:1 sessions .

Part of the problem is that managers are having a tougher time keeping a pulse on their employees. They can’t walk the floor anymore, so they schedule more conference calls instead. It’s gotten to the point where we’re having more remote meetings than we ever had in-person meetings.

Remote video conferences aren’t the answer to everything. In fact, they’re not even the answer to most things. Video conferences should only be held when there is no other means of accomplishing the goal, for example like talking through a group decision, doing a live demonstration, or having important 1:1 conversations.

There are plenty of asynchronous communication tools that have worked in the past, and still work now. Asynchronous tools allow employees to send communications at their convenience that do not require an immediate response from the recipient. Workplace chat applications like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and of course the tried-and-true email continue to provide value to newly-remote workplaces, and for good reason. They allow employees and managers to ask questions of each other and provide updates on their time or share deliverables, without having to lock themselves into a meeting.

And if written updates aren’t enough, tools like Grapevine and Loom are providing immense value by capturing the advantages of video — visual connections and screen shares — while also providing the benefits of asynchronous communication. Asynchronous video updates are less disruptive to calendars than in-person meetings, cost less man-hours, and can be stored for future reference or use. They also improve morale, since teams retain the benefits of visual connectivity and camaraderie without the pressure to appear in formal meetings for that purpose.

Yes, meetings suck — no matter what technology you use to conduct them. But when you use asynchronous tech solutions to share and discuss information, you’re preventing most meetings from ever becoming necessary. You’ve just protected your calendar and the calendars of your entire team!

And that’s worth a celebratory Zoom call! ;-)

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Founder, CEO @ TiltMetrics.com // Co-Founder, CMO @ HelloCecil.com

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Brandyn Morelli

Brandyn Morelli

Founder, CEO @ TiltMetrics.com // Co-Founder, CMO @ HelloCecil.com

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