Why you shoud prioritise meetings instead of e-mail ?

Here’s how to be more productive, smart and efficient.

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Technology is continuously evolving; new tools are always readily available to cater to our frenetic work rhythm. Allowing us to easily communicate remotely, without wasting time. The question is: are these forms of virtual communication truly capable of fully replacing face-to-face meetings ? When we speak about business, the fastest solution is not always the best one. According to a research published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and reported in the Harvard Business Review, a face-to-face request has 34 times better chance of positive answer instead of the one made by e-mail. How can it be explained? 


To foster effective professional relationships it is essential to develop personal connections: build trust and consolidate reciprocal understanding as well as a sharing spirit. In order to do this, we must look at our interlocutors in the eye, grasp the variations in their tone of voice, and know how to also record the emotions linked to their statements.


As recorded in the landmark study carried out in 1967 by Mehrabian and Wiener*, 93% of communicative efficiency is a result of paraverbal signals – such as rhythm and tone of voice – and non-verbal signals, namely gestures and posture. Considering that often body language sends quite different signals compared to those expressed in words, face-to-face conversations are more important than ever. Spending time to know interlocutors and understanding their true motivations is crucial, and it is a goal that can only be reached through personal interaction. It is much easier to build relationships through face-to-face meetings, as relationships are, of course, the key to any form of long-term corporate success. 


How may an efficient meeting be organised? There are few, simple, but indispensable rules for a successful meeting; few targeted actions to perform before, during, and after the meeting to maximize edge and make sure that none of the attendees leaves it thinking he/she has wasted time. Before the meeting, we should make it so that speakers are well-prepared. We should share not only the agenda and the related topics and goals, but also any eventual data or numbers that will be used. This will save prescious time, and make every speech pertinent and effective.
Then, it’s fundamental to establish expectations and communicate the approximate duration of the meeting in advance, in order to avoid that it lasts more than necessary. Finaly, you have to choose your location wisely. Will the meeting involve only few people, thus is it important they all face each other? Will it involve a larger number of people, thus is it important they all listen to one or few speakers? Will a presentation document be projected? Is it necessary to verify that the space chosen is suitable for the number of people involved and for the work they will perform. In order to make the meeting short and focused on action, we shall avoid useless chatting, calibrate the speeches well, and listen to the answers and reactions of the whole team.
What about after the meeting? It is useful to send – within 1 or 2 days from the meeting date – an e-mail to recap the contents discussed and the related solutions? If follow-up meetings are oprganised it could also be usefull to kepp all communications within the same email thread to share next dates and agendas. 

* Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31(3), 248-252. By Mehrabian, A., & Ferris, S. R. (1967). 

Published by on 12/04/2019 Photo credit: ©
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