In the same way that pre-pandemic you likely were convinced that you needed to be in the same physical location as your coworkers to be productive, you likely still assume that you need to have meetings to get work done. This is partially true. Meetings do play an important role in any organization, but if your company is like most others, they play too big of a role and offer too little in return.
Meetings are inherently disruptive. They require all attendees to convene at the same time and then move through the same content at the same pace. In contrast, asynchronous communication allows others to engage with the content when it best suits their schedules, engage in only the content that is relevant to them, process through the content at the pace that makes sense to them, and take the time to formulate an intelligent response.
While this is true, long emails are a poor alternative to meetings because many don't manage their inboxes well enough to read them and writing is generally harder and more time-consuming than speaking. However, there is another option that offers the benefits of asynchronous communication without most of the downfalls of emails: sharing video recordings.
A number of web-based applications, including VidYard, Loom, and BombBomb, allow you to quickly record a video of your screen, yourself, or both and share it with others in seconds or minutes. They come with simple browser plug-ins that make it possible to start a video quickly and they save your video to a cloud-based account so that you don't have to worry about storing large video files or trying to send large video attachments via email.
While there are many opportunities to use these pre-recorded videos in place of meetings or other forms of communication, here are three that can save you time and improve the effectiveness of your communications.
Use when updating the team
It's common for senior members of a team or organization to have experiences (e.g., customer site visits, leadership conversations) that junior team members need to hear about but aren't permitted to attend. You may be used to waiting until your next team meeting to share these updates. This delays when information gets to the team and can eat up a large portion of your team meetings.
Instead of waiting until the next meeting, record a video of yourself sharing a quick update on what happened and what you're thinking and send it out to the team within hours of the meeting or site visit. Team members can post questions or comments on the video that you and others can see and respond to.
Use when delegating
When delegating, it's difficult to know how quickly to go through the instructions. A video solves this by allowing team members to go through the content at their own speed and to revisit as often as they like. For example, they can watch the video on 2x speed or half speed and skip parts of the video that aren't relevant.
It also is often helpful to walk team members visually through how to do the work. A screen-share video makes this easy to do.
Use when delivering presentations
A good portion of meetings consists of one-sided information flow where one person is speaking and others are listening. This is generally not a good use of people's time.
Instead, record presentations, send them in advance and then focus the meeting time on real discussion. This should boost your meeting effectiveness and enable you to shorten meetings. Further, this makes it easier for all team members to participate equally --a key indicator of a team's psychological safety-- by giving junior team members time to prepare for the conversation.
Meetings are an important part of your work, but many of them are ineffective because we continue to use them as a blunt tool to do any and all kinds of collaborative work. If you reserve meetings for discussions of complex topics among small groups of people and use other tools, like these video-sharing apps, to achieve other forms of communication, you may just find that you'll enjoy going to meetings again.