How to run an effective async meeting

Asynchronous vs. synchronous meetings: What’s the difference and which is better? Discover the impact async meetings can have on your accounting firm’s productivity and efficiency.

minute read

Last Updated June 12, 2024

A smiling woman sits at a laptop as she contributes to an asynchronous meeting that fits her schedule.


In an average week, I typically have anywhere from six to eight recurring meetings. That’s not too many, right? Maybe not, but every three months or so, all those quarterly and monthly meetings converge in the same week. You know what I’m talking about. And, at this point, I’m so caught up in meetings throughout the day that there’s no time for me to actually get work done. Sound familiar? 

We’re not alone, folks. In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey revealed that 65% of senior managers said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 

An image with the following statistic from Harvard Business Review: 65% of senior managers said meetings keep them from completing their own work.

And I’m going to guess that most of those meetings could have been an email (or a Microsoft Teams or Slack message)…am I right? In the same Harvard Business Review Survey, 71% of managers said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. We’re all thinking it; they’re actually saying it. 

So, what’s the solution to meeting overload?  

Async meetings (also known as asynchronous meetings). And if you’re an introvert like me, you’re going to love them. Let’s get into it. 

Async meetings defined 

If you’re anything like me, you live for structure in your day…to an extent. A day full of meetings can be extremely overwhelming, especially when you have several deadlines looming. And again, if you’re like me, your mind can wander during meetings, even when trying your best to listen. It’s even worse when you’re sitting in a meeting wondering, “Do I even need to be here?” I’m sure it’s happened to the best of us a time or 20. 

That’s why async meetings can benefit your business and your team, whether you’re at an accounting firm or small business.  

What are async meetings? 

Simply put, asynchronous meetings don’t require all participants to be present at the same time. If your team is remote and spread among multiple time zones, async meetings allow them to contribute to a discussion at their convenience. 

We’re not all built the same way. Some of us have more energy early in the morning and can knock out tasks with the encouragement of a caffeine boost. And some of us tend to do better work later in the day. Even others do their best thinking while on a walk. Async meetings allow your team to communicate and collaborate over time instead of in multiple all-hands-on-deck, everyone-must-be-present meetings.  

(That’s not to say that we don’t encourage those daily staff or team meetings; we’re big proponents of those, especially during busy seasons.) 

With async meetings, communication and collaboration happen via digital tools, like cloud technology, project management software, collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack, or any dedicated asynchronous meeting tools. 

Not convinced that async meetings will be a good fit for your firm or business? Let’s discuss. 

The pros and cons 

An image with a pull quote from the blog that reads: Async meetings aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everything, but they can be highly effective when managed well.

Not having live meetings to discuss specific projects, tasks or clients can seem a little daunting. But consider the advantages of running async meetings: 

The pros 

  1. Flexibility. Your team can engage when it’s convenient for them. This helps accommodate different time zones, work schedules and personal commitments. 
  2. Productivity. Staff can focus on work without being interrupted by multiple meetings. This allows them to contribute when it suits them best. 
  3. Time efficiency. Say goodbye to attempting to find a time slot that works for everyone (we all know that challenge, right?). This will reduce scheduling conflicts and save time, allowing your staff to focus on what matters most: your clients and customers. 
  4. Thoughtful responses. Creating async meetings gives your team more time to reflect and provide thoughtfully crafted responses. This will lead to deeper and more meaningful discussions. 
  5. Documentation. Async meetings help create a written record of discussions and decisions that can be easily referenced at any time. This helps improve transparency and accountability among team members. 

While there are distinct advantages of async meetings, disadvantages exist, too. Let’s explore those: 

The cons 

  1. Delayed communication. Async meetings don’t happen in real time, so discussions around projects, clients or tasks can take longer to conclude. 
  2. Potential for misunderstandings. Context matters, and if your meeting isn’t in person or virtual, async meetings can trigger miscommunication or misunderstandings because they lack non-verbal cues and tone. 
  3. Low engagement. Some team members could feel disengaged or disconnected from their team because there’s a lack of real-time and/or face-to-face interaction. 
  4. Discipline and accountability. Async meetings require a high level of discipline for team members to check in and contribute regularly. Not everyone will thrive in this environment. 
  5. Technical challenges. Async meetings rely heavily on digital tools and platforms, so there may be a learning curve for some staff members. And we all know that sometimes these tools can cause hiccups or have technical difficulties. 

Like many things, async meetings aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everything. However, they can be highly effective for your firm or business when managed well. And they work especially well for hybrid or remote teams. Async meetings require communication guidelines and disciplined participation, but with a bit of work and compromise, you can use them to your advantage. 

7 best practices for async meetings 

An image that lists the seven best practices for async meetings, which are listed with more explanation within the blog.

If you’re considering incorporating async meetings into your firm or business, we’ve curated these seven best practices to help you succeed. 

  1. Create a clear purpose and agenda. Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and what you aim to achieve. 
  2. Use the right tools. Facilitate communication and collaboration through reliable tools like Microsoft Teams, and ensure all necessary documents are easily and readily available for all staff. 
  3. Set deadlines and expectations. Set specific deadlines for contributors to chime in and communicate how and when they need to participate. 
  4. Provide context and background. Include links and attachments to supporting documents to share relevant information and context to help your team understand the topics. 
  5. Encourage participation. Ask open-ended questions to encourage thoughtful responses. Create an environment where everyone can submit candid responses and feel validated. 
  6. Facilitate the discussion. Assign a leader or moderator to guide the discussion, summarize points and ensure everyone is heard. Be sure to provide regular updates and reminders about upcoming deadlines. 
  7. Document everything. Record key decisions, action items and next steps and share this information with the team. Ensure you clearly outline roles and expectations for each action item. 

By following these best practices, you’ll ensure your async meetings are productive, inclusive and effective. This will allow for meaningful collaboration and decision-making, even without real-time interaction. 

To async or not to async, that is the ‘aquestion’ 

When implemented effectively, async meetings can be a huge asset to your accounting firm or small business. Not only do they offer a flexible and inclusive approach to meetings, but they also help firms and businesses overcome the challenges of coordinating across different time zones and busy schedules. The end game? Enhanced productivity and engagement. 

Using the right tools in the right environment can help async meetings become a successful reality for your firm or business. And we can help with that. Learn how today! 

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