Meetings in organizations usually have one of these purposes: information giving, information exchange, problem solving, and decision making.
Information-giving meetings are favored when:
new programs or policies are announced or updated;
clients need to be sold on company products or services;
employees need training on new equipment or procedures;
employees need to build up their team spirit.
Information-exchange meetings are called for when:
the information is complex or controversial;
the information has major implications for the meeting participants;
there is symbolic value to a personal approach.
Again, memos work here, but phone calls are better, and, increasingly, electronic mail allows information exchange more quickly.
Problem-solving meetings allow several people to combine knowledge and skills at once. These are useful when:
a problem requires immediate response;
a staff considers operational difficulties in new products/processes;
a conflict or difference of opinion is possible;
people need to be persuaded to change their minds on an issue.
There aren't many good alternatives to face-to-face communication, but conference calls, interactive videos, and Web chat rooms are possible.
Decision-making meetings are needed:
as follow-ups to problem-solving discussions;
for majority decisions or evaluations on issues.
It may be possible to use telephone surveys or mailed response sheets for these, but the feeling of closure on an issue is more complete if done by face-to-face agreement.
THE IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION FOR MANAGERS IS: DO WE NEED TO HAVE A MEETING? A rule of thumb to use in determining whether to have a meeting is to ask if you are sure of the outcome. If you already know the answer, you could telephone, write, or not have a meeting. If you aren't sure how you OR the issue will be received AND this is important to you or your company, better to go in person and have a meeting.