Are you sick of Zoom calls?
What about time spent in unnecessary meetings that could have been an email?
If you’re leading – or even part of a team – chances are that you suffer through more than your fair share of drawn-out video calls and unproductive meetings!
There’s no doubt that meetings have their place, and can achieve a lot – but perhaps you need to turn the idea on its head, with an asynchronous meeting.
If you’re thinking “Why would I want to do that?!” or even “Asynchro-what-now?” then this post is for you!
We’ll cover everything you need to know about async meetings, from when to use them (and when not to) and, of course, how to run them effectively.
Let’s get started…
What is an asynchronous meeting?
An asynchronous meeting is essentially a meeting that doesn’t happen in real-time.
Instead, participants chat and coordinate through tools like email, Slack, Project.co or Google Docs – at their own pace – to discuss topics and get their work done.
How does an async meeting differ from synchronous meetings?
Asynchronous meetings differ from their synchronous counterparts in two main ways: communication and timing.
Asynchronous meetings are online interactions that take place outside of a ‘simultaneous’ time window.
In other words, participants don’t have to be in the same physical space or stick to an agreed-upon time slot.
Instead, they can exchange information in back and forth conversations, whenever is convenient for them individually.
This makes asynchronous meetings ideal for a remote team, with people who live in different parts of the world or different time zones, as each team member can participate on their own schedule without holding back the overall momentum or progress of a project.
A synchronous meeting, on the other hand, requires all members to be present at a defined start and end point, and conversations take place in real-time.
In terms of purpose, both types of meetings are used by teams who want to share ideas and make decisions collectively – but different situations lend themselves to different types of meetings.
Pros and cons of asynchronous meetings
Async meetings are a great way to break the endless cycle of video calls – and bring back to life your productivity levels if you regularly suffer from a fully booked calendar.
The first, and most obvious benefit, is that they give you more flexibility than traditional live meetings, giving you the power to connect with remote members or colleagues just as conveniently.
Rather than surrendering your time to the availability of others, you can simply work at your own pace through your own tasks and talking points – providing thoughts, ideas and feedback as you go.
This, by definition, empowers you and other participants to express your thoughts with less pressure, as it gives everyone the opportunity to review and discuss rather than trying to think on the spot.
Whereas synchronous meetings can be dominated by those with the loudest voices, async meetings tend to be a great leveller: the voices of all team members can be heard equally.
On the downside, they do require a greater degree of organisation. You need to find the right software, for a start, and be crystal clear about what’s required from your team in order to make them work.
And, clearly – if you’re looking for an immediate response – an async meeting might not provide that perfect solution you were hoping for. Time sensitive projects where decisions need to be made quickly and decisively may benefit from traditional, synchronous meetings, instead.
Asynchronous communication: Top tips
When it comes to running an effective asynchronous meeting, many of the usual rules apply.
Here are some top tips for running an async meeting that works!
Create a meeting agenda
Clarity is really important when it comes to running an effective asynchronous meeting.
As always, an agenda is a great way to determine what you need to discuss, who needs to be involved and what the desired outcomes are.
Our totally free ‘Team Meeting’ project template on Project.co is a great starting point.
You can set up your meeting space, invite the people you need, then use the discussion thread to chat through topics as required using back and forth communication. Every message sent will prompt an email to everyone involved in the project who has notifications turned on, so nothing is ever missed.
The tasks tool can be used to schedule follow up tasks and assign them to the relevant people, on the required dates. It’s a really efficient way to manage a meeting – without having a meeting at all!
Managing your project in this way using Project.co will give you a comprehensive, time-stamped set of meeting notes.
But if you don’t use Project.co, you might want to use a standalone tool like Google Docs to keep a detailed set of notes.
Ideally you want these to be kept somewhere organised and accessible to everyone so that meetings can be followed up on, and there’s a clear record of everything agreed in all your team meetings.
It’s important to use the right software tools to run asynchronous meetings that get results.
Often this won’t just be one tool but a range of them.
As we’ve already mentioned, messaging apps like Slack and Project.co are a great way to manage conversations asynchronously.
But beyond that, it’s often necessary to review work and provide feedback – many brilliant tools exist from plain old Google Docs and Slides, through to specific review tools like Figma and Frame.io.
Using Project.co you can actually embed these tools into your project – so that everyone can collaborate on creative work without even leaving the project workspace.
Asynchronous work doesn’t necessarily mean text-based and impersonal, either.
Tools like Loom allow you to record quick 3 minute video messages and share them with your colleagues – a different type of face time! (and…pssst….you can embed Loom videos in Project.co, too!)
Async meeting etiquette: a simple guide
Asynchronous meetings are a great way to stay connected and productive, even when you’re not all in the same room.
But as with any other type of gathering, there’s an etiquette that should be followed to ensure it’s smooth sailing from start to finish.
For example, you should never send a message without making sure it accurately reflects your thoughts – check for typos and take the time to make sure it sounds how you want it to sound.
Additionally, set clear expectations before each meeting begins, like due dates for tasks or summaries of what has been discussed.
Lastly, don’t forget about kindness; people may respond at different times so hold off on judgement until everyone has had a chance to share their ideas and opinions.
By taking these simple steps into consideration you’ll have more successful asynchronous meetings each and every time!
Thanks for reading!
Asynchronous meetings are the unsung heroes of the modern workplace—they’re efficient, they eliminate overlap, and they promote a better work-life balance. They’re particularly effective for remote teams holding remote meetings but can work well for any type of team across a wide range of industries and niches.
If you’re not already sold on async meetings, hopefully this article has given you a few good reasons to give them a try.
And if you DO give them a try – you should give them a try using Project.co. Click here to get started for free today!