Too many meetings? Try this

Communicating async is hard. Here are some things I've learned

5/3/20232 min read

We've all been there. We have too many meetings on our calendars and everyone complains that they can get nothing done. A popular solution seems to be to reduce the number of meetings, but are you prepared to replace them with asynchronous ones?

Tips for Reducing Meetings
  1. Ask: Does this need to be a meeting? What are the outcomes desired? Is the agenda strong enough to require a video call, or can things be moved async?

  2. Establish a core group of attendees that need to be present. Mark others as optional. However, this requires a culture where optional means it's OKAY if you're not there -- no reprecussions. Take notes and share with everyone afterwards. Highlight the important takeaways and action items.

  3. Keep track of the # of hours your team is spending in meetings. We all have digital calendars, make it a habit to check in on your team to ensure they aren't spending too much time in meetings.

  4. Practice the art of async communication (more on that below)

Replacing Meetings with Async

In order to actually move away from synchronous meetings, your company must be efficient in async communication (Slack, Teams, etc...). This is not an easy problem to solve. Here are some tips:

  1. State the problem/agenda item you're trying to solve for. This one sounds obvious, but leading a conversation with the what and the why can help give you the direct responses you need. "Hey, I want us to come up with a plan to demo our progress in the sprint so that we can provide the most value for sales. Does anyone have any suggestions?"

  2. Directly at-mention participants that require a response.

  3. Encourage responses to be brief. You want your team to see the message, respond, and then never have to look at it again. There's nothing worse than someone feeling like they have to set a bunch of time aside in their day to formulate a response.

  4. Provide a time table for when you'd like to hear from async participants.

  5. Use the "remind" feature in your communication app to ensure that you can check-in on the conversation later in your day

  6. Document the outcomes

  7. Don't let it get out of hand. No one likes digging through 46 replies in a Slack thread. By then, it is almost certainly more efficient to jump on a video call.