Zoom, Teams, Webex and Hangouts have now become household names, but more and more people are experiencing stress – even anxiety – at the number of online meetings they’re participating in – as well as how they’re conducted. But it’s not only possible to make them painless. You can make your next meeting memorable and – yes! – even fun.
Be on time and be prepared
In the real world (remember that?), being a couple of minutes late for a meeting is nothing – online, it’s a miniature eternity. All the participants have managed to shut out their many, many distractions and now that time is being eaten up because someone is unclogging the Nespresso machine or feeding the cat.
And that also means making sure your setup is ready to go. Check your lighting, test your audio, video and internet connection. If you’re sharing your screen, make sure the content is preloaded and everything else is closed.
Make it personal
‘How is everyone?’ has fast become the dreaded question in video calls, because the honest answer is often ‘Not very good’. So the social sharing aspect has become more important than ever. Get everyone to share something they’re thankful for, or what they’ve been doing since the last meeting (if they want to). It might just be about German lessons, what they binged on Netflix or running a 10k, but sharing these things make a real difference.
Now more than ever is the time to learn how to become a good listener. Communication with another person is a two-way street and if one of those people isn’t paying attention, it all breaks down.
And this doesn’t just apply to the personal aspects. You wouldn’t check your email or WhatsApp in a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do it online. Remember, everyone will know exactly what you’re doing because they can see you.
What about lunch?
The jury is still out on eating. Generally, it’s a bit of a no-no, unless someone thoughtlessly scheduled a meeting during lunch. Which means that the following tip is vitally important for the meeting organizers:
Don’t outstay your welcome
Is your meeting really necessary? Do the math – a half-hour daily meeting knocks 2.5 hours out of everyone’s working week. Chances are you were already planning too many meetings before the crisis hit, but now it’s even more important that you cut back.
Remember that people will be seeking solace in routine, so unless it’s an emergency, avoid out-of-hours or lunch meetings. And if the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, make sure it ends on the dot. If you can finish early, do just that.
Remember, this won’t last forever
One day you’ll go back to the office and back to meetings with no filters, dance-offs or poodles. Here’s a thought: try cutting back on your daily number of meetings and make the ones you’re in more memorable. What’s the use if you can’t remember them?