Whether you work by yourself, or in a small, medium, or large business, a proportion of your time will be taken up with attending or holding face-to-face meetings. If you’re a small business owner, then it’s nice to meet up with others and not feel so ‘solo’ all the time, but I’m sure you often think of the travel and attendance time that you’ve lost when you need to be doing client work.
Is a face-to-face meeting always the best way though? Going forward, when you’re thinking of arranging a meeting, it might be helpful to consider alternatives and explore other options to help you make the most productive use of your valuable time.
How much of a priority is the face-to-face meeting - is it urgent?
- Will a project stall or fail if you don’t have it face-to-face?
- Could it lead to a new client or product development?
- Do you or your staff need to attend crucial training?
- Is face-to-face the only way forward, or could you use an alternative or arrange it for a more convenient time/day?
If you’re thinking of having a face-to-face meeting, then have you assessed the value of your meeting in relation to what else you could be doing?
- Do you know what your time is best spent on in relation to creating revenue for your business; whether that be creating or selling products, exhibiting, demonstrating, or undertaking client work.
- If the face-to-face meeting is of sufficient value to your business and contributes to making you money, through whatever means, then make a judgement call on whether it’s worth attending?
- It’s not always about money - is the meeting beneficial in other ways? If so it can be just as important to attend.
- Does it develop a product or client relationship?
- Does is contribute towards your mental, physical or emotional well-being?
There are loads of alternatives that can be considered rather than having a face-to-face meeting:
Can you do something as simple as pick up the phone and have a chat to someone?
Video calls, phone calls, chat/message forums
Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, ezTalks Meetings, Tango are just some of the online software that offer a combination of online face-to-face means of talking to someone that you can do while at your desk, or on the move, which cuts out any travel time completely?
Would an email conversation suffice?
Do you even have to attend the meeting yourself? Can you delegate it to someone else?
If the meeting is training related or just to communicate a message and you don’t need immediate feedback, can you pre-record this visually or in document format which can then be uploaded to platforms like Dropbox, Trello, Google Docs, or Sharepoint to share with recipients for them to access at their leisure?
Remote desktop software
If you’re liaising with your team, can you use a platform like Team Viewer, Windows Remote Desktop Connection, Splashtop, or Join.Me to demonstrate or share knowledge
If you do have to have to a face-to-face meeting, then have you made it as efficient and effective as possible?
- Do you really need a half day when you could complete everything in an hour?
- Does everyone invited really need to be involved?
- Could you incorporate it into another meeting at the beginning or end?
- Could you reschedule for another day to coincide with other meetings or accommodate other people’s diaries?
- Can you make people come to you rather than you going to them?
- Can you meet half way?
- Could you make it a breakfast, lunch, or evening meeting to better fit into your day?
- Can you prepare some or all of the information in advance to brief attendees before the meeting and make it more informed and effective?
Face-to-face meetings have a massive role to play in business, but it’s always a good idea to assess whether it’s the only way you can hold a meeting. Make sure you value your time!