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Meetings, both in-person and via video chat, are sometimes a waste of time. Although there have been various solutions, from 15-minute stand-up meetings to individual touch-base meetings that avoid having a bunch of low-participation attendees, but none of these solves the core issues with traditional meetings.

Why traditional meetings are broken

We've been wondering which is the main source of inefficiency that make synchronous meetings, both in-person and on video chat, less productive than they could be. And we found three:

1. Finding a slot is a nightmare

While many tools have attempted to make it easier to locate a single half-hour or hour slot when all parties are free, even one hyper-busy meeting participant can force the meeting to be scheduled at an unusual time or scheduled way too far in the future.

2. Attendees ≠ participants

An observer may really just need a three-minute read of the notes on the meeting, not to silently observe a 90-minute conversation. An MIT study mentions that many workers spend as much as 23 hours a week in meetings, and they aren't always presenting or responding to an important question. This wastes time and energy.

3. Meetings make more meetings

Imagine that you've gotten the right people in the room and settled on a time when everyone is free. This time may be perfect for some presenters and decision makers, but what about the team member that says, in the meeting, "I really needed to follow up with this person and this client before I could give you an answer."? Meetings make more meetings because they require further work to fully answer many of the questions that come up.

How Asynchronous Meetings solve the meeting conundrums

Asynchronous meetings are a collection of documentation, workflow agreements, and conversation that happen in an online meeting 'room' where each participant can access at strategic moments rather than all at the same time.

Because conversation is documented, everyone can participate when it suits them within the window available for the meeting, and everyone can sign off on final decisions together. These meetings take a bit of adjustment, but most people will see that they solve the three major issues of synchronous meetings in the following ways:

1. Organizers start the meeting without worrying about slots or availabilities

With asynchronous meetings, one or two coordinators of the meeting can put it together through a software program like Meetquo and send the invite to everyone else at whatever time suits them. They can put guidelines on when people need to get to the meeting, perhaps within a day for one part and within a week for a second part of it, but they don't have to back-and-forth over when people are free - they can launch immediately!

2. Observers can review on their own time

For those non-participating observers who come to meetings, asynchronous meetings really free them up. Rather than sitting through a day full of meetings, they can spend one solid hour reviewing the asynchronous meeting notes, contributing if they want to, or just noting that they've read everything and have no objections.

3. Each stage of meeting participation adjusted to each team' needs

If you launch a meeting today and a participant reviews the requests in the meeting, they can give you a timeline for when they'll have feedback to you and then go do the necessary work to get that feedback, all while the meeting is ostensibly "still going on." Asynchronous meetings are like workflow management but with much more high-touch connectivity; they allow you to discuss what and how the workflow should be, but also can move the workflow forward in ways that work for the whole team.

Takeaway: Asynchronous meetings can save time, effort, and frustration

Using an asynchronous model of meeting can completely change the way that your workday looks. You can get deliverables back to meeting coordinators and then set your own meeting structure all in the same morning, never holding people up and getting back to those who want to hear from you during a certain window. For the synchronous meetings you can't avoid, you'll be better prepared and more flexible because you've taken any meetings you can to an asynchronous model.

Asynchronous meetings work much better with structure and clarity; use Meetquo for your asynchronous meetings to see your productivity skyrocket and your time spent fiddling with your web camera much lower :-)