Email has transformed communication all over the world, for all kinds of people but especially for businesses. Hundreds and even thousands of gigabytes of information move back and forth every day. Sometimes, even critical business decisions are made and disseminated through email. There are times, however, when it’s still more effective to hold a business meeting. There are subtle and sensitive details that simply can’t be communicated through a screen.

The thing is, how do you determine whether you should hold a meeting or send an email? Here are a few tips to help you decide if you should keep or move your conversation out of the inbox.

If You Need Definitive Answers: Send an Email

There are plenty of ways to use email for productivity. Indeed, it’s a perfect project management tool. It allows you to establish milestones and set daily goals, manage tasks, as well as monitor progress. If you need to check on your team and see how things are going, email is the best platform to use. This way, your team can answer at their convenience and give you more definitive answers. With an email, you don’t put your people on the spot and with less pressure, they can offer more valuable input. However, if there’s a need for quick back-and-forth exchanges of information, set a short meeting instead of sending dozens of emails and crowding everyone’s inbox.

If the Topic is Sensitive: Hold a Meeting

The problem with written communication like email is that it’s absent of elements like tone of voice and facial expressions. As such, there’s a lack of empathy and it’s easy to misinterpret a lot of details. The result is opposition, not collaboration. If the topic is sensitive and has a lot of room for nuance, it’s best to hold a meeting. This will minimise the chance of things getting “lost in translation.” Everything will be clearer if you hold a meeting and don’t leave anything open to interpretation.

If You Need Feedback: Send an Email

Do you need feedback on a written document or perhaps an artwork? You don’t need a meeting for that. Just send an email with the corresponding attachment and ask the recipients to review. This way, they can give their full attention to your materials and give their honest opinion. Doing this also helps avoid group think, where everyone just agrees because they’re eager to get a consensus. When you send material for review and feedback over email, you’ll have more varied, in-depth responses. If you need to discuss the feedback further, then that’s the time you call for a meeting.

If You Need to Solve a Problem: Hold a Meeting

As mentioned earlier, a sensitive, nuanced topic should be discussed in a meeting. Thus, a meeting is the best venue to solve a multi-faceted problem. When you conduct a meeting, you can explain every detail to everyone involved and answer their questions in real time. Make sure to plan accordingly. Set the agenda and determine the outcomes you want to result from the meeting. When the team understands what needs to be accomplished, you can solve problems faster. However, don’t hesitate to ask for help via email should you need ideas for your meeting strategy. Moreover, you should definitely send materials for review prior to an email and ask the recipients to be ready with their feedback and suggestions.

If You Need to Disseminate Information: Send an Email

Have you recently received new information that your team needs to know? Before you call for a company-wide meeting, first ask yourself if the information requires action. If not and it’s simply an update that you need to share, send it in an email. Ask for read receipts if you must, to confirm that everyone has indeed read and understood the new information. You may also want to label the email as “Important” if it is, indeed, important and needs to be read immediately. On the other hand, if the information will yield a lot of questions, first send the email and ask your team to review. Then, call for a meeting so you can address their questions.

If You Need a Progress Report: Send an Email

Again, email is a useful tool in project management. You can use it to keep track of a project’s progress and get status reports from your team. There’s no need to call for meetings if all you need to know if your team has ticked off a task from the list. Let them work and just ask for periodic email updates. They will accomplish more this way. Only set a meeting for major milestones or to discuss strategies if your team is falling behind.


We’ve all attended meetings that could have been more easily tackled with an email (and seen plenty of memes about it). But on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also taken part in long-winded email threads that could have been better discussed in a meeting. Remember these tips and hopefully, you’ll be able to match your method of communication based on the situation.