Meetings are like Emails

Once upon a time, I used to work for a startup consultancy firm

We had daily standup meetings everyday. Usually I'd say "Hey this is what I'm working on, here's whats blocking me, here's what I'm working on today"

I like to call those active meetings. Meetings where I'm actively participating in them

Overtime, our company went into financial ruin due to COVID. Daily standups became weekly standups. Eventually I got laid off and my co-worker wasn't even aware of it until a month later.

My next company was the complete opposite. Meetings galore! Red tape processes. 7 hours of meetings were not unheard of here.

Having gone through this stark transition, I've come to realized that not all meetings are the same.

You can summarize a meeting into 3 categories similar to an email header:

  • TO:
  • CC:
  • BCC:

TO meetings

If an email is addressed directly to you TO field, it means one of two things:

  1. They expect you to acknowledge the email
  2. Some emails require you to respond

You are actively participating in this email. A meeting that is a TO meeting is a meeting where you are actually required to do the following:

  1. Provide subject matter expertise
  2. Give direct updates
  3. Lead a meeting

These are the type of meetings where if you don't show up, there's consequences. Project status's become unknown and fall behind schedule. Errors are not brought to attention and aren't resolved.

What matters the most is a TO meeting requires active participitation on your end. This impacts the direction a project is heading towards

CC meetings

Unlike a TO field, a CC is where your still important to the meeting, but just an observer.

A good example of this is if you have a lead developer in your team. He/She has to provide direct updates on technical matters, but you still need to be present to understand how it's going to affect your work later

In CC, you don't actively need to participate, but you still need to paying attention as it affects your work duties

BCC Meetings

My coworker once described this as being a fly on the wall. These meetings usually span 50+ participants. Usually they're company wide announcements or project wide announcements

Depending on what kind of company you work at, you might not always have a BCC meeting. They're mostly reserved for larger companies.

In BCC, you don't actively participate. In fact your probably not supposed to say anything. Your just there to listen even though it correlates with only a small % of your job duties

Can you just use emails/slack/SMS instead of meetings?

There's also the question of whether a meeting is needed in the first place. While a meeting is synchronous (everyone is present), an email is asynchronous.

An email in a sense is just a long drawn out meeting. If that slack message thread is going to be long and require multiple people, just make it a meeting. Otherwise send a slack/SMS/email instead

Hi 👋

I'm Vincent Tang, a web developer specializing in modern Javascript. This website is my digital garden of notes on backend, frontend, and devops! I also run a coding podcast called Code Chefs