How to Solve Meeting-Size Problems with a Single Email

You probably can recall at least one meeting where every participant contributes and leaves the room energized and excited to tackle their responsibilities. But let’s be honest, most meetings aren’t as good.

You probably often leave a meeting thinking, “that could have been a single email.”

Indeed, with the right approach, many situations can be handled via email. This is especially relevant in the times when most of us are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With that in mind, we put together several important tips to help you improve emails that you use instead of meetings.

Tip #1: Add an email signature with contact details

Provide recipients with the best ways for them to reach you. Professionals and experts in various fields end their emails with a well-structured email signature (also called email footer) that contains their name, title, profile picture, company logo, and contact information (such as phone number or website URL). This is the most common type of email signatures which you can design with the help of dedicated email signature software. Created with such tools, they work in all email clients and devices.

On top of that, if you still need to organize meetings, make it easy for your email recipients to book one by including a link to your calendar right in your email signature.

Below is an example of a good professional email footer.

Create email signature for free. It only takes a few minutes.

Pro tip: Your full signature is unnecessary in a thread of emails. If you throw emails back and forth with the same people, use a shorter version of your email signature.

Tip #2: Ask clear questions

It’s a common situation when a sender asks a few questions in an email, and a recipient never answers or answers only one of them. That probably happened because your questions weren’t clear, and you didn’t do enough to ensure that your email contained questions.

Keep in mind that when a recipient doesn’t understand something, it is most likely not their fault. If you have questions, the reader needs to know that quickly.

Ideally, you should alert the recipient to the fact that you have questions and need answers in the first few sentences.

For example:

I need to ask you about:

  1. the date of the release
  2. the number of downloads per one user.

By mentioning the topics, you distinguish each of them and provide a road map for the recipient.

Then ask your questions and insert the corresponding letters or numbers at the beginning of each topic.

For example,

  1. I hope to release a new version on September 10. Is it possible, or shall we postpone for a later date?
  2. Should we limit the number of downloads per one user?


Tip #3: Don’t write too much

Too long emails are almost as bad as too long meetings. So try to keep everything short and to the point. If you find yourself writing long emails, you probably should consider organizing an online video meeting. After you finish an email, be sure to re-read it multiple times and cut all the excessive information.


Tip #4: Send personal emails instead of CC’s

The main idea behind the CC (or carbon copy) field is to deliver your message to people who you want to know about it but are not directly involved. So, if you are writing to Tom, Lucy, and Jane and expect action from all of them, don’t put Tom’s email address to the “To” field and Lucy’s and Jane’s email addresses to the “CC” field. All of them should be emailed directly.

It is also a good idea to address all the people you put in the “To” field by their names. This lets them know who is involved in the conversation.

For example,

Hi Tom, Lucy, and Jane.

However, if you are contacting more than four people, you can just start with a simple “Hi” or “Hello.”

In summary:

Use “To” for recipients required to take action.

Use “Cc” for people you want to keep informed, but no actions are required from them.

Tip #5: Don’t be stingy

Here is a good one. Don’t try to combine all of the questions and issues to discuss into one email. You may think this is an attempt to be efficient and save time; however, cramming multiple emails into one doesn’t work for everyone involved. So, try to keep each message limited in its scope.

Tip #6: Don’t send emails too late

This is especially important if some of your team members are located in different time zones. Try to avoid sending emails at odd hours when people may feel pressured to reply. For those who are in different time zones, use the “Send Later” feature to make sure that the email hits their inbox in a timely manner.

Final words

 According to Elon Musk, too frequent, too big meetings, and meetings on which you are not adding value only waste your precious time. Actually, decreasing the number of meetings can increase people’s productivity and let them focus on things that matter.

Since they are often not the right solution to a problem, each time you are going to say, “Let’s set up a meeting,” consider sending an email. Emails allow time-shifting of communication and let employees go over messages on their own schedule. Unlike meetings, emails don’t interrupt everyone’s work.

Don’t get us wrong. We don’t say that meetings are bad. They are just wildly overused.

That’s why we suggest reviewing your meeting culture and holding meetings only when they are needed, not for their own sake.

This article contains six important tips that will help you be more efficient when replacing your meeting with an email. The basics include avoiding very long emails, sending personal emails instead of CC’s, asking clear questions, adding a professional email signature with all the essential contact information on it, sending emails minding different time zones, and so on.

Description: Check out the six tips that we hope help you be more efficient when replacing your meeting with an email.

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