The first rule of Fight Club is don’t talk about Fight Club. And the first rule of the working world is don’t organize a meeting that could have been an email. The second rule is don’t “reply all” to an email unless the office is literally on fire and it’s the only way to get the message out. But, since that last one is pretty self-explanatory, we’re going to focus on not wasting people’s time with unnecessary meetings.
Before you decide whether to set up a meeting or send an email, ask yourself a few key questions. Firstly, are you going to do all the talking? If yes, then type it up and send an email. Is it a list of complaints regarding your shared office space? Send an email that people can ignore until they actually have time to focus on the breakroom fridge fiasco. Finally, is there a reason you need to speak to these people face-to-face? Ah, that’s a difficult one.
To make it easy for you, here are the four types of face-to-face meetings that are a must in today’s workplace.
#1. Project kick-off meetings
You need everyone in one room to kick off a project on the right foot. While it is possible that you could email an individual brief to everyone involved, wires could easily become crossed when the right people aren’t able to talk to and influence one another. It’s far better to have key decision-makers, project managers, and those with the technical abilities to make everything happen, all in one space. Yes, even if those people have to travel to be there. Pro tip: look into booking a central meeting space that is convenient for everyone, like venue hire in London rather than Suffolk or Surrey.
Project kick-off meetings are the best way to ensure the success of any new venture and they certainly couldn’t be compiled into an email thread.
#2. Project retrospective meetings
As important as project kick-off meetings are, so are the meetings that happen once a project has been concluded. A retrospective meeting is where the key people involved in a project – for example, the client, creative director, project manager and technical geniuses – sit together and dissect every stage of the project. This way each person will be able to see what worked and what didn’t. If you’re planning to continue working with these people on future ventures, this will show you how you can improve the process going forward.
It doesn’t matter whether the project was a complete success or not, it matters that you look at the mechanics of how it all came together (or didn’t come together). It’s the perfect way to ensure that your next endeavor has a leg up. If you created a new brand strategy for a client, it’s a good way to objectively look at how much of an impact you were able to make. Or if you launched a new website, you can realistically analyze whether you invested the right amount of time in the correct areas.
#3. Performance review meetings
Performance reviews are often of a sensitive nature and therefore need to be conducted face-to-face. Even if you know the entire meeting is going to spent praising the employee, it’s important that you give this feedback in person as it shows respect and gratitude. And if an employee isn’t reaching their full potential, that touchy subject needs to be addressed in person. A performance review can never simply be an email. There should ideally be a back and forth between the employee and manager. Reviewing an employee’s performance is not like a restaurant review. It’s a chance to discuss previous work and come up with goals for the future, which has to be done face-to-face.
#4. Client meetings
When it comes to winning over a new client, your best bet is to do it in person if you can. Face-to-face meetings encourage trust between both parties and it’s important that clients trust the people they’re handing over their money to. Through email and instant messages, you are limited to text (and emojis). But when you’re speaking to a client in person, you can use body language and tone of voice to convey yourself. Meeting with potential clients in person gives you credibility and puts a face to a name, and that’s important when you’re trying to foster a business relationship.
The partnerships that last are always the ones that have the human touch. Let your clients get to know you by organizing meetings whenever you can. Of course, don’t over-do these meetings as your clients are most likely very busy people (as are you). So, meet up when you need to and touch-base when it’s convenient for both of you.
You don’t want to be known as the person who constantly calls meetings that could have been emails. But you also don’t want to be the person who makes the mistake of not speaking to people face-to-face when it truly matters. Meetings are important, but only because of what people get out of them. So, always weigh up the value that would be gained from an email versus the value that could be gained from meeting in person.