“Meetings suck up so much of my time, I’m finding it hard to get real work done,” my client, who is a VP at a digital media network, told me. “A good three-quarters of my time in the office is spent sitting in meetings, so I have to squeeze real work in between.”
Meetings were taking up so much of her time that she was waking up early to get work done, staying late, and working weekends just to stay afloat with the real work she had to do. “Having this many meetings at my level is par for the course. It’s just frustrating that a lot of the time spent in meetings is a complete waste of time!”
Then she asked me how much time I spent in meetings.
“None,” I said.
I explained that I used to be in her position. It felt like the day would be almost over before I had a chance to sit down and get real work done. But now, I hold just one 30 minute meeting with my team per week—which really is so that we can connect on a personal level.
My client was shocked.
Office environments have traditionally orbited around meetings. Meetings were designed to be a way to effectively communicate information and make crucial decisions to move the business forward.
But they have devolved into a time suck of posturing, making excuses, and talking in circles instead of making decisions. Only 12% of executives believe their top management meetings consistently produced decisions on important strategies, according to a 2003 report from Marakon Associates and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
MEETINGS ARE GOING THE WAY OF THE DINOSAUR
There’s a new breed of people for whom a new technique has made most of their meetings obsolete. These are people who are willing to challenge the status quo so that they can magnify their productivity and impact in the organization—and work shorter hours!.
And now, it’s going mainstream.
Screencasting, the technique of recording your laptop screen along with the audio of your voice, is quickly gaining popularity at small companies and large conglomerates alike. It eliminates the need for most meetings entirely, or drastically reduces the time you need to spend sitting down together.
It’s the best combination of an email, a voice message, and a video.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
You download a screencasting app, such as Snagit ($49.95, available here) or Screencastify (free on the Chrome web store here).
Then you would start a new screencast and record all or part of your computer screen. Start talking, as if you’re leaving someone a voice message on their phone, and explain what you want your recipient to understand.
Finally, stop the recording. The output is a mp4 video with a visual of your computer screen, along with the sound of your voice. This mp4 can be automatically uploaded to your Google Drive, so that you can share the screencast with your recipient in one simple link. Your recipient can then send a screencast back to you if needed.
Previously used to replace lengthy emails, screencasting is quickly replacing in-person meetings as well. It is so effective because it forces both parties to communicate clearly, in complete ideas.
HERE’S 4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ADDING SCREENCASTING TO YOUR CORE TECHNOLOGY LIST
- It’s a faster way of communicating. No scheduling required! You can record a screencast at your convenience, and your recipient(s) can watch it and respond at their convenience too. This sort of asynchronous conversation is much more efficient than delaying a meeting because both parties are busy. It is extremely effective for team members who work remotely or in different offices. How much time could you save by not having to schedule meetings every month?
- It allows you to “serve yourself.” Because it’s a video, you can replay the content anytime. You can speed it up, slow it down, or reference it later. It’s the opposite of what happens in meetings—where everyone leaves with a slightly different interpretation of what was said, and no good way to reference what was communicated.
- They’re shareable and you can archive them. Screencasts are easy to share with anyone who needs to view them, at any time. We store years and years of screencasts on Google Drive so that our employees can teach themselves new business procedures any time.
- They incorporate more types of communication than emails and meetings do. Screencasting is an uber medium that allows for written, verbal, and visual communication all at the same time, meaning your recipient has more ways to ingest and understand what you’re trying to say. Emails allow only for written communication, while meetings only incorporate verbal and visual. It’s all the positives of emails and meetings without many of the downsides.
The main resistance point I hear from clients who are thinking about using screencasting is that it’s one-sided. Only one party can be talk at a time, which means there is no back-and-forth dialogue in real time.
But this con actually turns into a pro because it forces both sides to prepare beforehand and deliver complete ideas, rather than shooting from the hip. It forces the recipient into listening mode because they don’t need to think of an immediate response.
WHICH TYPES OF MEETINGS CAN BE REPLACED BY SCREENCASTING?
Not all meetings are created equal. There are seven primary types of meetings, and while screencasting is most effective at replacing 1:1 meetings, there are many ways you can use screencasting to augment the time you spend in most meetings.
SOME MEETINGS CAN BE TOTALLY REPLACED
- Training Meetings—Training employees is far more efficient when done via screencast. You only need to create the screencast once and it will be accessible to team members for years to come. Our entire training manual consists of screencasts along with written instructions.
- Delegation Meetings—Delegating to employees is fraught with issues. Both sides are often guilty of poor communication, and managers find themselves repeating the same directives. Instead, send your employees a screencast with a visual aid to help increase comprehension. Over time, we have noticed an increase in employee independence and ownership over business segments with this approach.
- Reporting Meetings—The act of reporting up to your manager can be easily replaced with a screencast. Managers will rejoice because screencasts make it possible for employees to put their best foot forward and communicate succinctly and clearly. Employees will rejoice because they won’t need to worry about having questions thrown at them out of left field.
- Feedback Meetings—Meetings where the primary purpose is to give feedback on a piece of creative sales deck or other business output are readily replaced with a screencast. In fact, this drastically improves the clarity of the feedback, and it’s nice for the employee to be able to replay the video as they’re making changes.
MEETINGS THAT CAN BE PARTIALLY REPLACED
- Status Update Meetings – This category also includes project update meetings. Screencasts can be used to send updates to the whole team beforehand, leaving meeting time just for key decisions.
- Strategy Meetings – For meetings where key strategic decisions need to be made, screencasts can clear the path by communicating information in advance. This could include the current state of the business, important data points everyone should consider as well as laying out the key decisions that need to be made so you can get the discussion going right away when you meet live.
MEETINGS THAT CAN’T BE REPLACED
- Brainstorming Meetings – This is an instance where having a meeting is more effective than sending a screencast, because group brainstorming results in much higher quality output.
There you have it—massive amounts of time can be freed up immediately by using screencasts. Some meetings are a combination of some of the above categories, but usually the primary purpose of a meeting fits into one of these types.
And once you get hooked on screencasting, there’s no going back. Our clients say screencasting is one of their biggest time—and frustration— savers.
Kelly Janes, a small business owner who runs a web design company from Oregon, told me, “I’ve started creating videos for folks instead of walking them through something over the phone. The other day, a client asked how to do something I had recorded previously—like six months ago—and I was able to send her the video link. Very cool!”
Amberly Miller, who runs an online virtual assistant service, told me, “I use screencasts for everything. Literally everything. Instead of meetings, instead of emails, instead of notes to myself. I love screencasts!”
GET STARTED WITH SCREENCASTING NOW
- Download a screencasting software
- Educate your team on what screencasting is (you can even send them this article)
- Review your existing list of meetings and identify three you can replace with a screencast now
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