How Many of These Mistakes Do You Make in Your Online Meetings?

In: BlogDate: Nov 06, 2019By: Judy Rees

Are all your online meetings purposeful, engaging and fun? If so, stop reading now!

On the other hand, if you're concerned by the amount of time, money and energy that’s being wasted in online meetings and you'd like to get better results, check out these five mistakes you may be making — and do the opposite!

Hi, we are Happy

We are leading a movement to create happy, empowered and productive workplaces.

How can we help you and your people to find joy in at least 80% of your work?

More about Happy

Mistake 1: Have a mix of co-located people and dial-ins

These 'hybrid' meetings are almost always horrible. The us-and-them dynamic they imply is extremely difficult to overcome, and often sets off chain reactions which extend way beyond the meeting.

To make this situation even worse, why not raise the problem during a hybrid meeting from within the co-located group — and don't let the remote people get a word in? Keep the (in-the-room) discussion going until someone says, "Why should we have to have a worse meeting experience just because of the remote people? That's just silly." Then move on.

Mistake 2: Don't use video

Bad meetings are always worse when you can't see the other people's body language. You can't tell when participants have questions, want to comment, violently disagree, or have had enough of a subject and want to move on. On top of that, the fact that participants can't be seen means they’re much more likely to get distracted and do other things during the meeting. 

Mistake 3: Don't have an overall purpose for the meeting — or if there is one, don't tell anyone

What better way to generate misunderstandings, conflicts, and wasted time? To make this tactic even more effective, make sure this is a regular meeting that nobody actually owns, leads or facilitates. 

Mistake 4: Don't tell anyone why they've been invited, or how they should participate

One of the worst things about online meetings is that it's very easy to invite too many people. After all, meeting room availability isn't a limiting factor. It's also very easy for invitees to say 'yes' to an invitation. If the invitation doesn’t make clear otherwise, everyone will expect to 'listen in' while getting on with other work throughout the meeting. 

Mistake 5: Make sure the audio quality is dreadful, enriched with loud, distracting background sounds

"Sorry, I didn't catch that" isn't just code for "I wasn’t listening." It can also mean "You sound like you're underwater," "Try speaking one at a time!" or "Stop whispering and move closer to the mic." It's still the case that many online meetings take place huddled around a spider phone, as if the organisation is trapped in the 1990s.

When it comes to background noise, the sky's the limit! Often, that's literally true: airport noise is especially effective at disrupting conversations, as it can combine café clatter, screaming children, loudspeaker announcements and much, much more... Research suggests that 47% of workers admit to having used the loo during a conference call. Let’s hope they pressed 'mute'!

Related blogs

Why not sign up to our newsletter?

Sign up to our monthly newsletter, full of tips, tricks and news to help you to be happier and more productive at work.

Sign up here

Did you know...

...project management requires a disciplined approach to defining, planning, strategising, communicating, and controlling projects?

Our range of project management workshops will guide you through this approach and our Asana and Microsoft Project courses will show you how to structure, schedule and monitor projects efficiently and effectively.

Not sure which Project Management course is for you?

Still need help? Get in touch and our friendly team will be able to advise you further, or arrange a call with one of our experienced facilitators.

Why learn online with Happy?

  • Interactive and engaging - just like our classroom sessions
  • Bitesize or full-day sessions - fit around your schedule
  • Learn from home - all you need is a quiet place to call from and an internet connection
  • No quibble money-back guarantee

Judy Rees

Judy is an author, consultant, trainer and coach based in London, but mostly working over the internet. She helps people who work apart to work together, better, by improving their relationship-building communications. She is the co-author of a bestselling book about Clean Language, which is a precision inquiry toolkit that improves clarity in complex contexts. 

More by Judy