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Curb Unproductive Meetings with Asynchronous Videos

December 16, 2022
Amanda Quintero
Senior Manager of Business Operations
Curb Unproductive Meetings with Asynchronous Videos
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Scheduling time for remote teams is and will always remain a challenge. But when your teams are spread across multiple time zones, and you’re trying to be respectful of everyone’s time, you go into what a friend of mine calls the extreme sports version of doing global business

I see so many friends and vendors going through hoops trying to schedule meetings during crazy hours for one or both parties, only to have one person deliver a single unidirectional message while the others “just listen”. The classic this meeting could have been an email. 

This is a particularly painful for the person “just listening” who had to skip another meeting, wake up early, stay up late, or miss dinner with friends and family in order to be on the call.

Fail to find alternative ways to communicate, and you’ll end up with burned out team members or long delivery cycles encumbered by long Slack threads or seemingly infinite comments in a common doc; a minefield for miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Video recordings give you a middle ground between all-written or all-meetings and if you use Loom – like we do at Orbit – you can also get confirmation when viewers open the video, and what percentage they watched.

Limits to written communications

Earlier this year, I wrote about how in async work culture the written word is king. And I stand by it. 

However, as the year unfolded and the Orbit team grew, the limits of written communications became more evident. 

Here are a few examples I’ve observed over the year:

  • Expressing complexity and/or emotionality. Unless you are a poet or sharp writer, breaking down complex topics or emotionally sensitive issues is easier expressed in spoken form.
  • Walk-thru a process or a screen view. If a written document seems either too rigid or boring, or you notice that people keep asking questions that are already answered in a written document then visual communication may be a better option. You may also recommend folks reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, but that’s a different subject.
  • Stuck in perfecting one’s writing. The process of sending a message or drafting a document may be more time consuming than if you could just talk it out.
  • Some people don’t like to read long documents or messages. YouTube, TikTok and other video applications demonstrate that many people prefer short videos over long text. 
  • Preemptive intro. Sometimes, you may want to send out a long doc, deck or Miro board but you want to give the receiver a broader framework and instructions on how to read it.

In short, video is ideal for unidirectional messages. At Orbit, we use Loom because it allows you to create private cloud-hosted videos and manage access rights.

When to prioritize video recordings?

When I use async videos, I breakdown my interaction in two steps:

Step 1: Delivering the upfront content

  • This step does not require collaboration and is ideal for video recording.

Step 2: Q&A, next steps or agreements

Think of:

  1. Demos
  2. Training materials
  3. Walk-thru high-level ideas
  4. Short slide decks
  5. Answering FAQs with screen view support

Once shared, you can book a short follow up meeting. If anything, I’ve noticed the follow up meetings get more interesting, as people have already had time to watch and process the info.

Moreover, the recording will allow the person to return and review if needed. It can also be useful for future reference. 

Countless hours of training, Q&A, and onboarding can be saved by recording one video and keeping the link available in the Team Handbook.

Overall, async videos are a great tool to minimize meeting time and encourage work-life balance within a global team. 

We hope that by sharing this learning out loud you are ready to try this tool within your organization or community practice.

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