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Meeting, E-mail, or Phone Conversation: How to Decide

business communicationTechnological innovation has left us with far too many choices when it comes to communicating with others. We can send a text message, type up an e-mail on one of our many devices, or pick up one of those devices and make a video call. We can even video chat with someone on the other side of the world at no charge whatsoever.

For businesses today, this availability of options has many professionals confused. One worker may choose to send an e-mail while another picks up the telephone. The end result is that many workers spend so much time responding to e-mails and talking on the phone, they fail to get any real work done during the course of a day. Add meetings into the mix, and it’s no wonder workers feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day.


PC World posted an infographic that revealed the top ten productivity killers in the workplace today. E-mail topped the list, with employees spending an estimated one to two hours per day answering and responding to e-mail. Meetings made the list, as well, and workers repeatedly complain about the amount of time they are required to spend in unnecessary meetings each day.

If you’re one of the people firing off multiple e-mails and scheduling meetings in your office, you may wonder if you’re fueling these complaints. Communication is a necessary part of doing business, after all, and eliminating meetings and e-mail messages altogether would likely result in disaster in the long term. The key is not to stop communicating, but to be more effective in your communication.

Before you send the next piece of communication to half the company address book, or schedule a one-hour staff meeting, here are some questions you should ask yourself.

  • Can the concept be communicated in a few words? (E-mail)
  • Is my message designed for multiple people? (E-mail)
  • Do I need instant feedback from others on my message? (Phone call)
  • Do I require feedback or input from multiple people (a.k.a.: brainstorming)? (Meeting)
  • Will the other person later need this information in writing in order to complete a task discussed in the piece of communication? (E-mail)
  • Is there a possibility my communication may be misunderstood if I send it in writing? (Phone)
  • Do I need a written record of this communication for later reference? (E-mail)

There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of communication. A person’s decision often depends on personal preference, but there are definite differences in the type of message when communicated via different media.

While meetings can be counterproductive, every business should schedule an occasional staff meeting, especially if a large project is coming up. Businesses will also find face-to-face communication is more effective when working together on a project or deciding whether or not to do business together.

Once professionals begin to choose the right communication method for each type of message, they’ll become more effective in their exchanges each day. By limiting the number of e-mails and length of each, professionals can help their co-workers save time. When it comes to communicating a particular point, brevity is always best.


RAMON RAY is Small Business Evangelist, Infusionsoft and Technology Evangelist, He is passionate about helping small businesses grow their businesses by educating them about technology and marketing best practices. Ramon is a best selling author, journalist and free lance writer, event producer, speakerand emcee. Ramon's third book is best seller “Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing”. Ramon has shared the stage with Seth Godin, Daymond John, Guy Kawasaki, Simon Sinek, JJ Ramberg, Peter Shankman and other celebrity entrepreneurs. He interviewed President Obama in the President's first live Google Hangout. Ramon is not just an ivory tower geek, but as a former technology consultant has hands on experience in a variety of technologies including social media, mobile computing, computer networks, online software and more. Ramon’s expertise is technology, marketing and sales (personal branding, networking, business growth). Over his extensive career Ramon has written thousands of articles, spoken to thousands of business owners and impacted hundreds of thousands of small businesses to help their businesses thrive, using technology. Invite Ramon to speak at your next event.