I’m not sure which I dread more: A day full of online meetings or the prospect of watching the recording of a meeting that I missed. I do not miss a lot of meetings, but I do see a lot of them recorded. One question that I rarely see asked, much less answered, is what to do with all the recordings.

The answer is easy if you and your organization have taken the time to think things through. However, two years into the distributed work world, many organizations haven’t even considered the records management impact of those meetings. Organizations have worked through getting people’s consent to record. When it comes to knowing what to do with the recordings, progress has been minimal. Every organization needs to take a few hours to determine the future of these recordings before the lack of governance comes back to haunt them.

Why Record an Online Meeting?

The most common reason I see for recording a meeting is to allow people who cannot attend to see what transpired, replacing meeting notes. There are three times this makes sense.

  1. Demonstrations: When the meeting is used for demonstrating something, it can later serve as a training video. That makes it a valuable resource. Recording that meeting allows anyone who later decides they need to see the same demonstration to do so.
  2. Accurate Notes: When I know facts and acronyms are going to be flying fast or my reliable note takers are absent, I am likely to record the meeting so I can produce a good set of notes. Once the notes are complete, I delete the recording as its purpose has been served.
  3. Hectic Schedules: I work with a lot of leaders who are double, or even triple, booked at any given time. Giving them an opportunity to see how the team arrived at a conclusion directly has many benefits and prevents repeating the meeting for everyone. Once the key players have reviewed the notes and the recording, the recording can be deleted.

For the last two items, the deletion is a conscious act. It is not automated, and I am the one hitting the delete button. What about the rest of the organization? Is anything happening? Most likely not. Those meetings are gathering dust in Microsoft Teams sites, or whatever platform they were conducted. They become liabilities and consume IT resources.

Related Article: Now Is the Time to Be Strategic With Content Management

Determining Your Policy Around Recording Retention (or Disposition)

How long to keep the meeting recording depends upon the purpose of both the meeting and the recording. If the recording is used to validate notes and is deleted after a day, that works. The notes are the record of what transpired. If you keep recordings for a week for people to see what they missed, that also works if you can automate the deletion.

However, you need to document those policies. These logical deletions are ripe for lawsuits if your organization cannot prove that they are being automatically deleted. A good rule set of policies could include:

Learning Opportunities

  • All recordings of demos are kept for the same duration as training material. For example, that could be a set time period or be dependent upon the lifespan of the system being demonstrated.
  • All recordings of all-hands are kept the same duration as internal company news. Afterwards, perhaps it is archived for historical value or deleted.
  • All other meeting recordings are deleted after one week. Be honest: if people haven’t gone back in a week to view a meeting, they likely never will, and the information may already be outdated.

You will notice that most suggestions for how long to keep those recordings was dependent upon how long you would keep any record covering the same material. Like email and Word documents, the retention is based upon the purpose and the content, not the media in which the information exists.

Related Article: Information Governance Is Boring, But Necessary

Resolve Your Meeting Policies Before Bad Habits Set In

Giving thought to how to store new types of content, and for how long, is nothing new in the information governance realm. In fact, it is crucial to stay ahead of the questions and get things automated quickly before bad habits become entrenched.

Take time to consider how you want to handle your meeting recordings. Write a simple policy to document the guidance and then automate the back-end systems. Most have rules that can be configured. If a recording needs to be kept longer than a very short period of time, move it to a system designed to manage records and get it out of the meeting platform.

Taking action now can save you a lot of trouble in the future. The last thing you need is a meeting with a few side remarks becoming Exhibit A in a court case. Plus, your IT department’s budget will thank you.

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