The Practice of Recording Meetings: Is it necessary?

I had never really thought too much about recording meetings before the pandemic started. This was likely because meetings happened in person. Perhaps it was too awkward to record live and in person. Or maybe the equipment wasn’t available. Now, a simple button can record practically any virtual meeting. I blogged about this before in “Privacy in the Time of Pandemic: Video Calling” and “The Practice of Recording Meetings: Good Custom or Overload?“.

Lately it seems at least one person in every meeting wants it recorded. Personally, I find it’s usually more than enough to sit through a meeting once. The thought of having to listen and watch a recorded meeting feels a bit much. And yet, today somebody emailed me that she couldn’t attend this afternoon’s meeting. Then she requested somebody to record it for her to watch later. This is for an hour long meeting!

Whatever happened to reading minutes? Or asking a trusted colleague for highlights? Why is it that now we can easily make a recording we want them all recorded? Technology often impacts our interactions with real life events. However, watching a recorded meeting seems a bit unnecessary.

The other aspects of recorded meetings include privacy and management aspects. Recently a few questions came up at work about employees not in a meeting being able to access recordings of meetings. Was this a violation of employee privacy? From my perspective, if that employee was an invitee, or would normally have access to the notes, then it’s not. However, what if the meeting includes non-employees? All of a sudden, privacy takes on a different meaning.

This leads to the next point about management. Who is responsible for saving and maintaining this recording? Audio-video formats can be more complicated to manage over time than a document, which is how meeting minutes are normally captured. And where should these recordings be saved? Ideally, somebody would save the recordings in the same place as the minutes.

Some meetings we host are training or instructional in nature. For these meetings, it makes sense to record the demonstration for future reference. Or for people that missed the training session because it saves us time from having to do the demonstration again. In these cases, it makes sense to save the recording as training material. However, most meetings are not that straightforward.

Perhaps the best solution is to stop having meetings.

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