If we ask this question — how to improve meetings — most answers will be centered around these four ideas: create a clear agenda, send supporting material ahead of the meeting, only invite those that need to be there, and end the meeting with clear next steps.
All great ideas that will certainly improve your meetings. But we still believe they fall short and don’t tackle the main problem with meetings and the bad rep they get: making meetings the default channel to share work and get feedback.
Before you hit that Google Calendar button, ask yourself: is a meeting really the best way to accomplish my goal? We believe in most situations it isn’t. The best way to know for sure? Default to asynchronous collaboration.
What is asynchronous collaboration?
Asynchronous collaboration is when two or more people work on the same project without it happening in real-time. Everyone can contribute, share ideas, and feedback on their own time, without the need to schedule a meeting or engage in a live chat.
One way to do it is with written communication tools, like emails, Google documents, or knowledge-sharing tools like Notion. But soon you realize some things are difficult to put into written words or could be easily misunderstood. In these situations, record a video and do a quick screen sharing. Video is powerful to give context and explain things with clarity. And by screen sharing you can easily walk your team through your work.
The added benefit is that your team will have time to think about the feedback they want to give and questions they want to ask, instead of forming an opinion on the spot. So it also improves the quality of the feedback you receive compared to feedback shared in a meeting.
We're building Claap for exactly this. Our video annotation feature allows you to draw on the screen to add comments as if you’re pointing at it. By enabling an asynchronous discussion, most of the Q&A happens async. In the end, you might realize you have nothing left to discuss and a meeting isn’t necessary.
4 benefits of asynchronous video collaboration
The main benefits of defaulting to asynchronous video collaboration are:
- You'll be able to stay on topic and explain your points without interruptions. This is very hard to do in a meeting because you will be interrupted and others will start side conversations. But when on video, your team cannot change the topic and is forced to focus on what they see.
- Your team will be able to think about the feedback they want to give. Instead of forming an opinion on the spot and being interrupted, they can structure their thoughts and give you thoughtful feedback.
- Let your colleagues ask questions, directly in the video. That's the beauty of our most beloved feature—video annotation. Stop the madness of asking questions in Slack or, worse, bringing them into the meeting and wasting precious time.
- Everyone will save time. You present in 10-min or less, your team spends another 10 to give you feedback, and because you don’t have to wait for days to book a meeting, projects will actually move faster.
When is a meeting necessary?
In some situations, a meeting is unavoidable and actually the best option. These are the situations when you need to solve complex problems, brainstorm, and foster human connections. A great example is 1/1 meetings. They are essential in a manager/direct report relationship, to provide coaching, work on career development and boost engagement. Yet we fill them with project updates and KPIs reporting. This is where sending a claap video first helps you improve your 1/1 meeting. When you do meet, everyone has full context and you can focus on the most complex points.