Communicating in today’s workplace happens in a myriad of ways. Some of the most common methods include:
- Face-to-face meetings
- Virtual meetings
- Instant messaging
While each of these serves a purpose, depending on the type of information that needs to be shared, there are certainly drawbacks to each of them as well.
Our research found that the majority of employees feel that their company communications don’t send a clear message and that leaders don’t communicate in a way that’s best for employees.
A big culprit in this lack of engaged communication is in-person meetings.
Challenges with in-person meetings
Sometimes a face-to-face meeting really is the best way to communicate. Being able to sit down and talk through ideas and make decisions can be very productive when done right.
Unfortunately, this approach isn’t always possible, especially with more and more remote workers and globally dispersed teams. Even with virtual meeting options, it can be difficult to schedule due to time zones constraints and limited availability on people’s already busy calendars.
Sometimes it can even take longer to schedule a meeting with a busy group of stakeholders than the meeting itself actually lasts.
Synchronous meetings (whether face-to-face or virtual) also present some other, less obvious, challenges such as:
- People talking over each other
- Quiet people don’t always speak up
- People multi-tasking or not engaged
- Hearing, “Sorry, this room is booked”
- Hearing, “Sorry, I have to run to another meeting”
How many times have you been in a meeting where two or three people dominated the conversation and everyone else had to fight to have their voice heard? Not everyone has a personality that lends itself to interrupting and speaking up, especially in group settings or with leadership.
Additionally, how many times have you been in a meeting and looked across the room, only to see people checking their phone or typing and working on something else?
Perhaps they didn’t even need to be in the meeting if that is the case. Or maybe only a small portion of the hour-long meeting was actually relevant to them. Either way, the meeting probably wasn’t an effective use of their time.
Ironically, another drawback with meetings happens when they are going great. It can be frustrating when you are in the middle of a good discussion, but all of a sudden the scheduled time is up and you have to cut it short before completing the goal of the meeting. You might only need 10-20 more minutes, but instead, because the room is already booked, or people have to run to other meetings themselves, you have to stop and try to pick up where you left off at another time.
When this happens it is very hard to get that same group back together and it takes time to recap where you were at and get back in the flow. It’s very hard to predict exactly how long a meeting should be in advance.
An alternative approach to meetings
One new way that TechSmith and other companies are overcoming some of these challenges is through asynchronous video-based discussions.
This technique involves making a quick informational video, sharing it with colleagues, and having them leave time-based comments on the video as they are watching it.
We found that 48% of employees consider video the most engaging form of communication.
You get notified when comments are left, making it easy to re-engage, reply, and keep the conversation going. No meetings needed, just Snagit (to record your video) and Video Review (to share and discuss).
Snagit gives you an easy way to record your voice and screen (or webcam) at the same time. And Video Review lets you easily collaborate with viewers of your videos. You can quickly review drafts of videos that you are working on in Camtasia, as well as discuss ideas and information in video or image format with your coworkers.
But aren’t videos a lot of work?
I know what you might be thinking…if I’ve never made a video, how is learning to do that going to save more time than actually having the meeting? That’s a normal reaction and you’re not alone. These fears can stem from the belief that:
- Videos need to look great to be effective
- Videos always take a lot of time to make
- Videos will be hard to govern and keep up to date over time
- Videos require a lot of prep like scripting and storyboards
While in some cases all of the above can be true, in most workplace communication situations, you don’t need to prepare any more for making a video than you would to have a meeting.
These types of videos are usually intended for a small group of people and have a relatively short shelf life.
They likely don’t need a lot of polish as the content and the conversation associated with it are more important than how it looks. Many times it can be as easy as opening up a slide deck or a spreadsheet and simply talking over it while recording, and one take is all you need.
Example of an asynchronous video-based discussion
Let’s take a look at a quick example of how this concept actually works.
Pretty simple, right? We think so too. That’s why our teams at TechSmith have leaned on this model and eliminated over 50 meetings in the last three months alone.
At times, you may still want to have a meeting after the initial web-based discussion. If that’s the case, you can now jump straight into the decision-making mode, rather than spending the first half of the meeting having someone present information or data and answering questions.
When this happens, guess what, you just did a “flipped meeting.” This is another great technique for more effective meetings which simply means sharing out information in advance so that everyone comes to a meeting more prepared.
However, many times you will find that you can accomplish everything you need through a web-based video discussion, and can skip the meeting all together!
7 benefits of video-based discussions
After using this technique more and more at TechSmith for things like status updates, research findings, and strategy proposals, here are the top seven benefits we have seen:
- Everyone gets an equal voice
- Can view the content when and where it’s convenient to you
- Allows people time to digest the content before they respond
- Documents and archives the conversation in a single place
- Allows everyone to have shared context going in
- Can make better use of in-person time (if it is still needed)
- Can sometimes replace an entire meeting
There are many challenges associated with meetings that can wreak havoc on productivity and communication in a workplace. E-mail and other forms of communication present their own set of challenges as well.
However, using videos to share information and start a collaborative discussion can be a great alternative. We hope you think so too!