I have been a consultant for +10 years. I have suffered many unnecessary meetings and calls. I haven’t been to any meeting yet that couldn’t be solved with a couple of good emails.
I have made the decision to stop accepting meetings. I want to be more efficient and focus 100% on what’s really important: Getting great results for my clients.
I know it sounds radical now, but many experts think it will be the future. It was also very strange to work remotely when I started doing it 10 years ago and now it’s the best way to work for many people.
I see many disadvantages to meetings (whether by videocall, phone or face-to-face):
1. Meetings are not efficient
If I write a text that I can use frequently (for example, to welcome new clients or answer a frequent question), then I can reuse it hundreds of times. It takes me only 5 seconds to copy and paste the text into an email.
If I have to explain the same thing in a meeting, it takes the same time every time I have to explain it (could be 20 minutes instead of 5 seconds).
So in the long term, I waste dozens of hours repeating the same thing meeting after meeting, instead of solving it in seconds with an email.
Apart from how frustrating it is to repeat like a parrot the same thing over and over again, instead of using that time to bring real value to my clients.
2. Meetings limit communication
Using emails, Slack or similar online tools, we can use multiple resources:
- Links to articles, videos, etc.
- File attachments
In a phone call, we can’t use any of that.
In a video call, they could be used, but it makes no sense to wait several minutes in silence for the other person to check those links or files.
That limits our options for explaining everything we want to explain, in the most complete and efficient way possible.
3. Meetings reduce deep-thinking and innovation
If I ask you a question in a meeting, you usually don’t spend more than 10 seconds thinking about the answer. That’s not enough time to really ponder about it and give the best possible answer.
In complex issues, this can make the difference between coming up with a great solution (and achieving great results) or settling for a mediocre quick response.
The other option is to say that you will think about it and answer later. But if you do that often, live meetings no longer make any sense.
4. Meetings generate problems and misunderstandings
Most of the things that are discussed in a meeting are not registered anywhere.
We all had problems remembering something that was said weeks ago in a meeting. Or even worse, different people could remember something different from the meeting (which can lead to misunderstandings and even serious controversies).
You can write a minute/summary of everything discussed in meetings, but then they are even less efficient (more time spent on each meeting) and it is impossible to register everything anyway.
On the other hand, in an email everything is “recorded” and it is easy to search for anything that was mentioned. There are no controversies, you don’t have to trust your memory and you don’t have to waste time writing minutes.
5. Meetings steal our time, energy and productivity
A meeting takes a lot of time and energy: Several emails to book a date, prepare for the call, wait for everyone to connect, solve possible technical problems, protocolary greetings and goodbyes, prepare and review minutes, etc.
And you have to add the duration of the meeting itself.
Most of that time wouldn’t be wasted with an email.
In addition, they break our concentration and natural workflow, even if it is a “super quick” meeting. Time is usually wasted before the meeting and it is difficult to get back in the zone after it:
And if you have to do meetings with people on different continents and timezones (as is my case), then you can forget about reasonable work schedules.
6. Meetings usually don’t provide any relevant advantage
For example, sales meetings don’t show if you are good (or bad) at doing the “real work.”
There are people with commercial skills who give a great image in meetings with potential customers, but then give bad service (the typical “snake oil” salesman that we have all suffered).
In my case it’s the opposite: I am shy, I don’t like doing sales and I’m not good at meetings, presentations, etc. But I work very hard to achieve the best possible results for my clients.
There is nothing that I can explain in a meeting that I can not explain in an email (actually is the other way around, I can give better information and answers using email, as I have explained above).