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That meeting could have been an email…or could it?

There has been a shift in recent years away from administrative, or information-disseminating, meetings due to the meme-worthy “that meeting could have been an email” mentality.

I am now so completely drowned in ‘informative’ emails that I am actually missing many important details that are lost within my deficient email filtering system. My system involves scanning the dozen emails sitting in my inbox, flagging the ones that look important to ‘read later’, then failing to ‘read later’.

Personally, I feel the need for meetings, or at least in-person and verbal interactions sometimes, to effectively convey important information. In the absolute busy-ness of my work life this is far from feasible. There are certainly alternative ways of communicating that we use such as Microsoft Teams, Learner Management Systems, social media, even texting and, (I know it’s old-fashioned) calling someone on the telephone. But the reality is that when there are so many different forms of communication that using more than one or two actually contributes to the problem as we are not all necessarily in the habit of checking each platform on a regular basis. Furthermore, some of our peers are less tech-savvy than others and require a simple communication solution.

I have embarked on a search for some elegant communication systems that I would like to put to the test. Let’s explore some I have stumbled upon in travels:

1.      Video emailing. Never occurred to me to send what is effectively a ‘voicemail’ as an email. Screen casting is a effective and efficient way to record your voice, your screen and even a video of your face to convey information clearly, and eliminates the risk of the tone of emails coming across differently from what you intended as you have control over the tone your voice and body language.

2.      Whatsapp. This was actually a very effective tool we used on a recent school camp as we were able to create a small group chat including only the staff attending the camp and we all had mobile phones on us at all times. Highly effective for communicating short bursts of information for a short period of time with a small number of people.

3.      Targeting emails and using subject lines effectively. It would help my email filter system if emails were targeted to staff who really need to know the information (as opposed to ‘AllStaff’). We are so time poor, it is easier to send to everyone and hope that the people who need the info will figure it out. The subject line can really help with this too. Think “URGENT: Change to schedule for today” vs “Timetables” for example.  

4.       Interactive emailing. Embedding a survey or asking for some sort of specific and timely response can illicit improved engagement in an email. This could be in the form of a survey or poll, or could even be a gif, countdown timer to an event etc. We use Outlook and I have had a look at the Loop features which I might try out.  

If an email is absolutely necessary, which it often is, keep it brief. No need to tell your life story to warm up the crowd, just get to the point and get to the point quickly.

I would really love to hear your thoughts on this and any ideas that you have, either road-tested or otherwise.  


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