How to Know When a Meeting Should Be a Meeting


Have you ever been in a meeting and thought to yourself, “This could’ve been an email”? You’re certainly not alone: recent studies tell us that 32% of employees found themselves thinking that same thought at some point.

Why is this an issue? For starters, pointless meetings can lead to employee fatigue. Research shows that hybrid employees who go on more one-on-one meetings than before are 1.37 times more likely to feel exhausted at work. On top of that, 40% of remote or hybrid employees have seen their workday increase in the past 12 months, leading to more fatigue.

When to Send an Email

Not sure if you should schedule a meeting or not? Here are three warning signs that you may be better off sending an email instead.

1. You Just Need Feedback

Let’s say you’ve put together a strategy document and want feedback on it. What happens if you call a meeting for that? The most likely scenario is that everyone will read it silently, creating an awkward situation. If you send that same document via email, each recipient can review it in their own time. That may also lead to more honest feedback.

2. You Need to Share Information

Do you have some new information that you need to share with your team? Consider whether there’s a need to take action afterward. If your meeting would only consist of you reading a document to the group, go ahead and put that information in an email. If you’re worried they won’t read the email, label it as “Important.”

3. You Want a Few Answers

If you have specific questions that require definitive answers, you’re better off sending an email than bombarding someone at a meeting. This approach is particularly helpful for introverts, who like processing a request before they respond.

When to Call a Meeting

Of course, there are situations where a meeting is a better option than an email. Here are three common examples:

1. You Want to Increase Efficiency

There’s a difference between being efficient and being productive. Productivity means doing more with the same, and efficiency is doing more with less. If you’re trying to increase efficiency, getting your team in the same room for 30 minutes is a worthwhile use of time. These meetings are best used for discussing challenging issues or making important decisions.

2. You Need to Handle a Sensitive Topic

Emotionally charged topics should be handled face-to-face. This kind of interaction, even if virtual, helps reduce miscommunication by providing more space for tone, nuance, and body language. Some common sensitive topics include coaching and mentorship discussions, as well as performance management conversations.

3. You Want to Brainstorm Ideas

The meeting format makes brainstorming more productive since it provides a low-stake opportunity for sharing ideas and helping employees understand how their peers think. To make the most of a brainstorming meeting, make sure to set it up so that everyone is on the same page and aligned on the same goals.