Human Resources

6 Signs This Meeting Could Have Been an Email (+ Fun Team Meeting Ideas)

Published on August 8, 2022 • Updated on September 6, 2022 • About 8 min. read

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6 Signs This Meeting Could Have Been an Email (+ Fun Team Meeting Ideas)

Sometimes, the most productive meeting is one that never happens. If you’ve ever felt burned out by too many meetings at work (and privately wondered why you were even invited to one of them in the first place), you’ll know what we’re talking about.

That said, meetings can be a great way to engage and collaborate with your team. So how do you tell the difference? Whether it’s a general announcement or a request for feedback, there are a few clear occasions when it’s better to send an email rather than asking your colleagues to take time out of their busy schedules to meet.

Before you hit send on that next meeting invite, look out for these 6 signs your meeting should have been an email (and follow our tips on how to make staff meetings more engaging).

6 Signs your meeting should have been an email

Meeting should have been an email

Here are six signs that your meeting should have been an email:

You’re just asking a simple question

You have a concern that only involves one or two other people. You call a meeting to discuss it, and the next thing you know, half the company is in attendance.

When you call a meeting simply to ask a question, it can quickly get derailed and become unproductive. If you have a question that can be easily resolved by one or two people, send them an email or pick up the phone instead of scheduling a meeting.

You need to make a general announcement

"I have an announcement to make" is the death knell of any productive meeting. Especially when that announcement turns out to be a general update that could have been delivered by email.

Of course, some company announcements are important enough to be made in a face-to-face meeting - but only if you have the time to answer a load of follow-up questions.

If it's just a quick update, skip the meeting and save everyone's time. For more major announcements, schedule a meeting, but be prepared to take a Q&A at the end.

You want feedback

You're working on a presentation, design mockups, or data reports. You need some input from your team, but you don't want to wait a week for their feedback. So, you call a meeting.

When all you need is feedback, an email will do the trick. By cc'ing relevant team members on your email, you'll get the feedback you need without taking everyone out of the workflow for a formal meeting. You can even gather feedback asynchronously with a tool like BugHerd.

Pro tip: if you need to demo a new tool or process, try pre-recording a video while sharing your screen. You can send the video link by email to gather everyone’s feedback asynchronously.

You just had a meeting on the same topic

When you find yourself in meetings that keep going over the same issues without progress being made, you get stuck in an unproductive loop. It’s a waste of time and just frustrates your colleagues.

Regular team meetings are fantastic for progress updates. But if there are no updates or progress since the last meeting, there's no need to rehash old material. You can update everyone via email on the current status and next steps.

You don’t have time to prepare

"Meetings are a waste of time unless you're the one in charge."

In a recent report by Survey Monkey, 65% of professionals said that attendees and the person hosting the meeting are responsible for making a meeting productive.

If you’re the meeting host, you need to make sure that everyone walks away totally clear on the decision made and what the next steps are. That means having a clear objective and an agenda before the meeting begins.

But if you're rushing to put together a last-minute meeting, it's difficult to devise an agenda that everyone will find helpful. It's better to send an email that you can easily follow up on, rather than winging it in a meeting.

Your team already has back-to-back meetings

Too many meetings at work

"I'm sorry I’m late, I’ve just come straight from another meeting." How many times have you said that lately?

Not only do constant meetings pull your team away from their work, but they’re likely to miss important decisions by constantly ducking out of meetings early to make it to the next one. When everyone’s calendars are already meeting-heavy, send an email instead.

Pro tip: avoid team burnout by encouraging people to take a “no calls” week once a quarter.

How to stop hosting boring meetings

Boring meeting at work

People tune out of meetings for a reason — they're often long, unproductive, and a waste of time. But when done right, a meeting is a great opportunity to collaborate with your team, get inspired, and boost morale.

We've compiled some actionable tips to make your meetings engaging, efficient, and worth attending.

Decide if your meeting should be an email

Before you send out that meeting invite, work out whether it’s the best use of your team's time — especially if you have remote team members joining from different time zones, who may have to work late or early to attend.

Ask yourself questions like

  • What's the purpose of the meeting? Is there a way to achieve the same goal without a meeting?
  • How many people need to be in attendance to make the meeting worthwhile?
  • What's the expected outcome of the meeting, and is there a way to measure whether or not it was successful?

If your meeting is a basic exchange of information, making the most of asynchronous internal communication software is the way to go.

There are a lot of ways to communicate asynchronously:

1. Email: Great for one-to-many or many-to-one communications

Email tools like Gmail and Outlook make sending a message to one person or group easy.

You can use an email to:

  • Send a quick update
  • Make announcements
  • Give instructions
  • Receive or ask for feedback on a task or project

You can also use an email to make announcements, like sharing news about a company-wide initiative or changes to the company website, that don't require immediate action or discussion.

2. Videos: Perfect for recording a quick message

Record virtual meetings with Livestorm

With video recording tools like Loom, you can record yourself giving instructions, presenting new ideas, or sharing your screen to show a colleague how to do something. For example, if you're onboarding a new team member, you can record a video explaining how your company uses its project management tool.

Or, if you need to give feedback on someone’s work, you can use a video to show what changes need to be made. Not only is this more efficient than scheduling a meeting, but it also gives the person receiving the feedback time to process it before responding.

Video recordings are:

  • Great for showing rather than telling
  • Great for giving or receiving feedback
  • Quick and easy to record
  • Can be watched again and again (unlike a meeting)
  • Easy to share with colleagues

3. Project management software: Ideal for tracking tasks and progress

Project management software like Notion, Clickup, or Miro can be used to track the progress of a task or project, as well as any associated deadlines, files, and conversations.

You can use project management software to:

  • Request or give feedback on a task
  • Share updates on a project's progress
  • Ask questions about a task or project

This is a great way to keep everyone in the loop without having to schedule (and attend) a meeting. Plus, it provides a written record that can be referenced later if needed.

4. Scheduled messages: Set it and forget it

Scheduled messaging tools like Slack enable you to compose a message and set a time for it to be delivered. This is perfect for sending reminders or updates that don't require an immediate response.

You can schedule a message like:

  • A daily or weekly update on a project's progress
  • A reminder about an upcoming deadline
  • A heads up about a change in the company's website or product

This way, you can be sure that your message will be seen (and doesn't get lost in the shuffle of an always-full inbox)

Brainstorm fun team meeting ideas

Fun team meeting ideas

Group meetings like brainstorming sessions have unique challenges. Preparation is key to a successful meeting, but you don’t want to risk boring your team to death. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Collaborative drawing. Use a whiteboard or digital canvas to visualize a problem and get your team working together to solve it.
  • Gamification. Create teams and award points for every task completed or idea generated.
  • Themed meetings. For a more informal meeting, encourage attendees to dress up according to a theme like "ugly sweater" or a "tropical vacation".

Set an agenda

Everyone in your meeting is engaged and on track… until someone brings up an unrelated issue. Suddenly, the conversation is derailed and you're wondering "why did I even bother scheduling this meeting in the first place?"

Combat meeting sabotage by setting (and sticking to) an agenda. Whether you're brainstorming for the next webinar ideas, working on a new product, or hosting an all-hands meeting, it's important to have a clear agenda.

Here are a few tips for setting an agenda:

  • Be clear about the purpose of the meeting
  • Identify who needs to be in attendance
  • Prepare an agenda in advance and send it out to attendees
  • Start and end on time

Only invite relevant people

When you're putting together an agenda, consider who really needs to participate in each discussion point. There's nothing worse than sitting through a long, tedious meeting that doesn't concern you.

Before sending out invitations, ask yourself:

  • Does this person need to be updated on the topic?
  • Will this person be able to contribute to the discussion?
  • Is this person's presence necessary for a decision to be made?

If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, leaving that person off the invite list might be best.

No more back-to-back meetings

If your team has little or no free time between meetings, even the best meetings will feel like a drag. When scheduling your next meeting, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need to have this meeting?
  • Can this meeting be replaced with a quick update via email or chat?
  • Does this meeting have to happen when my team’s calendar is already busy, or is there a better time?
  • Can this meeting be shorter?

By carefully considering each meeting, you can free up time in your schedule and avoid Zoom fatigue or meeting burnout.

Record virtual meetings

We've all been there — you're trying to remember what was discussed in a previous meeting or catch up on one you missed. But it took place a week ago and all the written notes are patchy.

Recording your meetings is very easy when your meetings happen virtually, but it can be done with in-person meetings too. Meeting recordings are valuable assets to your team because they can be watched again and again.

And if you're wondering how to get out of a meeting, the answer might be asking someone to record it for you. This way, you can watch it in your own time (and at 2x speed!).

Pro tip: before hitting "record," make sure everyone in the meeting is aware and gives consent to be recorded.

Follow up

Even the most dynamic meeting is a complete waste of time if nobody understands what the next steps are.

When the meeting is over, take a few minutes to jot down what needs to happen before the next meeting. This could be anything from "send out a survey to attendees" to "follow up with John about X issue."

Then, send out a recap email with the next steps and assign deadlines. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what needs to get done.

Stop having too many meetings at work

Before you say, "let's set up a meeting," check whether there's a better way to handle the issue. Your internal communication strategy, including how you handle meetings, will have a big impact on your team's productivity.

And when an email just isn’t enough, you can host more productive and meaningful meetings when you use a video engagement platform like Livestorm. From live Q&As and polls to video recordings, Livestorm features will make your next meeting stand out.

Frequently asked questions about when this meeting could have been an email

Can this meeting be an email?

A meeting can be an email if the purpose of the meeting is to update attendees on something, if there isn't a need for discussion or input, or does not require all attendees to contribute.

When should you send a meeting invite instead of an email?

You should send a meeting invite instead of an email when you need input or discussion from attendees, want to collaborate on something as a team, or need to make immediate decisions.

How do you ask if a meeting can be an email?

Ask the host or organizer the purpose of the meeting and if you feel like it could have been an email, let them know. They might not have considered it and will appreciate your input.

To ask if a meeting can be an email, ask, "can we handle this via email instead of scheduling a meeting?" or "do you think a meeting is necessary for this?"

Why are meetings better than emails?

Meetings are better than emails because they provide an opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and immediate decisions.

How to combat Zoom fatigue

To combat Zoom fatigue, you can schedule breaks during long meetings, move around every 20 minutes or so, turn off your video if you don't need it, and avoid back-to-back Zoom calls.