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How to ensure your face-to-face meetings are worth the time - guest blog

If you’ve found yourself at work thinking, “This meeting could’ve been an email,” you’re not alone. One of the big things the pandemic revealed was how much time some companies waste on pointless meetings, along with how this can have a knock-on effect—damaging productivity, preventing employees from focusing their energy on more important things, and giving your company a bad reputation among employees and potential recruits.

This article will examine when meetings are essential and when they’re not, and how companies can fine-tune their policies to ensure employee productivity is maintained.

When are face-to-face meetings okay?

Let’s start with the basics. What do we mean by face-to-face communication? Face-to-face meetings are in-person conversations where the participants can see and hear each other— including video meetings through digital tools like Zoom, Teams or G-Meets. 

For many organisations, meeting face-to-face is a must, especially now with the increase in remote and geographically distributed teams. It’s often faster to communicate using speech, and seeing the other person provides non-verbal communication cues like body language and vocal intonations that are non-existent in an email or text. 

However, not all meetings should be in person—too many can annoy and overwhelm your team members. Every year, 24 billion hours are wasted on unproductive meetings. 

While recent events such as the global pandemic, remote work, and improved technological tools resulted in an increase in video meetings, people still perceive most of those meetings as a waste of time

Here are some examples of when you should have a face-to-face meeting. 

one to one

Discussing performance

The purpose of a performance review is to connect with employees and have a discussion about their work, so face-to-face is best. You can’t build relationships the same way with an impersonal email detailing performance faults. 

Doing the performance review in person or via video conference positively affects performance and productivity. Recent research shows that verbal face-to-face feedback improves workplace performance compared to other means of interaction. 

Talking about big strategies/plans

Organisations shouldn’t leave big news or strategic planning open to interpretation. Trying to guess what that email or communication from management meant can cause misunderstandings and stall strategic progress. 

Face-to-face meetings simplify communication, give the participants non-verbal cues, and allow them to ask questions and discuss plans. Meeting face-to-face will increase clarity in your organisation’s communications. 

Talking to a client/prospective client

Some things are better done in person. One of them is pitching a client. A face-to-face meeting can help you communicate your strengths better. The client can inquire directly about your services or products and receive a more personal experience. Even the best presentation or brochure cannot rival pitching personally. 


Interviewing a new hire

Zoom interviews became a norm during the pandemic, and the trend continues today. Interviewing a potential employee must be done face-to-face to give a deeper sense of both the candidate and the reviewer through social cues and the ease of asking follow-up questions. Visual aids can be also used.

When face-to-face meetings are not okay

Although meeting face-to-face has many advantages, not every interaction within an organisation requires a personal meeting.

Here are some occasions when your meeting can be an email or a text. 

Quick catch-ups

Meetings are not needed when the only objective is to find out how everyone is doing and check in on low-priority items. A quick conversation about a specific, non-critical topic can be carried out in writing instead of requesting a meeting. If it can be a quick office chat, it should be. 


Anything that can be shared over email or Slack

If it is not urgent, it probably belongs in Slack or an email—topics that need to be discussed immediately but are not critical belong to the “in-writing” category. For instance, email is better for short project status updates, brief announcements, suggestions, or guidelines.

Sharing reports and spreadsheets

If you’re simply sharing information or documentation, it probably doesn’t require a meeting.  Simple and routine feedback, like when working together in the same document, is also better done in writing than in a meeting. 

You have no agenda

If you can’t define the meeting agenda, there is no meeting needed. A meeting needs an agenda to be outcome-driven and productive. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hold ad hoc or urgent meetings, but they must have a reason, a purpose, and a desired outcome. 


When to schedule a meeting

When to send an email 

You need to meet to solve a problem or brainstorm a solution 

Simple procedures and logistics

There is a topic that requires decision making

Regular catch-ups 

Planning and strategy

Basic requests

Building relationships with employees

Sharing documentation and information 

Pitching clients


Interview new hires



3 ways to have better face-to-face meetings

An endless roster of meetings is taxing for staff, even for remote workers. How can you ensure you won’t tire your team with unnecessary video meetings? Here are some tips that will help. 

1. Ask whether the meeting is necessary

To minimise unproductive and unnecessary catch-ups, define guidelines and criteria for calling a meeting based on the tips above. If the topic doesn’t meet the criteria, use email or a Slack channel. 

Encourage your team to use asynchronous communication as much as possible, such as email and instant messages. Find a platform that enables regular and seamless communication between team members. 


2. Schedule well in advance

When, in fact, you do need to call a meeting, do so ahead of time. Give your team members the opportunity to log the event in their calendars or request changes in the schedule. If possible, share the agenda beforehand so the participants can come prepared. 

3. Have a clear objective for the meeting outcome

A successful meeting is one that makes measurable progress. To achieve that, specify at the beginning of the meeting what you expect to accomplish from it. Define the problem you need to solve or the question your team needs to answer. 

When it comes to meetings, less is more

Meetings are a necessary part of any organisation’s life. However, not all communication needs to be carried out face-to-face. Knowing when to schedule a meeting and when to use other types of communication can make your organisation more productive, reduce employee burnout, and streamline communications. 

Dean Matthews-2Guest blog from Dean Mathews, founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 15,000 companies all around the world track time. 

Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better. 

When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family and friends, and finding ways to make the world just a little better


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