Management Assistance Program

Another Meeting That Should Have Been an Email

By Jim Calloway

Among those who prefer to work from home, missing time-wasting meetings is often cited as a positive. Back at the office, many mid-level managers view meetings as the way they supervise the work, so that is in conflict.

Best practices for better meetings include:

  • Always circulating an agenda in advance that includes the decisions that need to be made. (“In advance” does not mean 15 minutes before the meeting.)
  • Designating the time the meeting will conclude is critical as is starting the meeting no more than two minutes after the scheduled time. This may be challenging in a law office environment occasionally. But chronic tardiness demonstrates a disregard for the schedule of others.
  • The person running the meeting should encourage everyone to being heard.
  • Everyone should be reminded that getting through the agenda may get the meeting over sooner.
  • Hybrid meetings, where some are attending by video conference, are a particular challenge. The chair may need to acknowledge remote attendees, encouraging them to speak up if they cannot hear and making sure they have an opportunity to speak.

Outlook does provide a tool to let you avoid meetings when simple decisions need to be made. Even though it’s likely most lawyers have never tried it. Use voting buttons in messages is a step-by-step guide from Microsoft on how to use email to poll others. You can set up the poll with Yes/No or Yes/No/Maybe. When there are only a few decisions to be made, this may be a great method to make a meeting into an email. And if someone believes it needs further discussion, they know how to Reply All.

Originally posted in Oklahoma Bar Association’s Courts and More, November 1, 2023.