I’ve seen quite a few memes floating around on social media about how most meetings can be replaced with a simple email. This point of view often comes from people who are bored, tired, and don’t get much value from the meetings they attend.

I’ll admit, email can be a pretty efficient way to communicate during the workday. However, sometimes emailing back and forth can be time-consuming and unproductive. It’s also easy to miss emails and misinterpret the message. Still, some meetings can seem inefficient as well at times.

So can meetings be replaced with emails instead to help you save time and be more productive? The answer really depends, but here are some signs that may help you determine whether you need to host an official meeting or not.

Someone Has a Few Quick Questions – Email

It’s common for you or anyone on your team to have questions as they work on tasks. Something may come up that they’ve never handled before and this requires some direction. If the question(s) are pretty basic and to the point, you can probably just handle it over email and skip the meeting altogether.

When I’m working on a project and have a quick question, I’d much rather just send an email then jump on a call. That way I don’t have to break my concentration as much and don’t have to worry about slowing down my workflow to squeeze in a call.

Expectations Need to Be Set For a New Project – Meeting

If you are starting a major new project or campaign and need to set expectations, it’s probably best to have a meeting. This is especially true if multiple team members will be involved. Instead of reaching out to everyone individually, you can have one meeting where everyone can communicate and you won’t have to repeat yourself.

Plus, during meetings, you can show examples, share your screen (if needed) and answer more in-depth questions from attendees as they come up. I find some team meetings helpful when in-depth questions are presented because sometimes I had thought about the same thing and it feels good to get an answer and feel like I’m on the same page with everyone else.

You Need Feedback – Email

If you’re doing some work for a client or partner and just need feedback, sending a quick email is the best option. If there aren’t any major questions, changes, or adjustments, the client can simply say whether they like the results or need to request revisions.

I never schedule meetings simply based on the fact that I need feedback on a project. I find that email communication is much more efficient for this.

Progress Report – Possible Meeting

Can meetings be replaced for emails when it comes to providing progress reports? Yes and no. If you’re simply providing an update, then you can likely send an email and call it good. Some businesses even prompt team members to send quick updates weekly via email or team collaboration tools like Slack.

However, sometimes the progress report needs to be discussed thoroughly in a meeting format. Some things just can’t be communicated well with an email like if you were faced with specific obstacles or if you need to explain some results.

It may be difficult to communicate all that you need to say in a written message. Plus, it could be misinterpreted as well or some aspects could be skipped over. In that case, it’s probably better to just talk through it and this can save you time as well.

You Need to Share Some Company Updates – Email

Industry news and company updates are important, but they don’t really necessarily need their own meeting – especially if you’re just going to be reading from a press release or other document that you could have shared.

Consider sending a company update monthly or as news surfaces. You can even label your emails ‘URGENT’ and ask team members to respond and confirm receipt by a certain deadline.

You Need to Connect Better With Someone Regarding a Serious Topic – Meeting

Some situations are best handled with a meeting. If you’re considering working with someone or need to discuss an important topic or project, it’s best to just schedule a meeting and keep it brief.

The truth is, while emails are quick and easy, you can’t always gain context by reading them. Meetings provide a great opportunity to interact with others and feed off each other’s tone.

I’ve seen plenty of email conversations get snarky as someone got offended just because they read what the other person said out of context. Or,  communication was not clear during the email which led to some unnecessary mistakes.

So Can Meetings Be Replaced With Emails?

Meetings don’t always have to be the top choice, but they are effective when ran correctly and at the right time.

When you consider your next business interaction, carefully weigh these factors to see if email or an actual meeting would be a better form of communication.

What’s your take on the email vs. meeting topic? Which do you prefer and why?