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!

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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'!

Learn more in our workshop

Correcting these five mistakes will significantly improve your online meetings. And if you'd like to take those meetings to a higher level, fill your toolkit with tips and tricks join Judy Rees for our Leading Engaging Remote Meetings course.

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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. 

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