KEEPING UP TO DATE
Tips for Effective Online Meetings
7 July 2021
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we meet has irrevocably changed. Many of us are spending more time meeting online and experiencing fatigue from too much screen time, a lack of personal communication, and unproductive meetings. In 2021, managers need to plan and facilitate effective meetings to help their team members and themselves, avoid the mental exhaustion that accompanies endless online meetings.
It’s also important to consider that each meeting you and your staff attend is a running cost to your business. If you analyse the cost of each attendee’s time vs the outcome of the meeting, you may start to question the benefit of having meetings (whether they are in-person or online) so it’s important meetings are efficient, organised and have deliverable outcomes. Here are some suggestions to help streamline your meetings.
- Is this meeting necessary? Can it be covered by email?
- Pre-meeting chatter can quickly turn into ten minutes. Over a day this can accumulate into many minutes of wasted time so be prepared to manage the time.
- Finish the meeting on time.
- Set a clear agenda to define the meeting. This ensures each attendee can determine the relevance of attending and arrive prepared.
- Stick to the agenda. Meetings that run off track are big time wasters, and that’s costly too.
- Back-to-back meetings can be draining and unproductive. Ensure you schedule sufficient breaks to recharge yourself; it’s important for your mental health.
- Avoid “complaining” – one complaint can easily lead to the next. Quickly switch topics to pivot away from unproductive comments.
- Communicate your expectations of conduct prior to meetings. You can completely bypass unproductive behaviour.
- Reminders about conduct might also include rather obvious expectations; show up to the meeting prepared, be ready to engage and focus on the outcome.
- Discourage micro-breaks, side chit-chat, or negative comments during meetings.
- Meetings are an opportunity for teams to engage and bond. Online meetings have eroded communication, where eye contact, non-verbal cues and body language are part of our expression. These non-verbal signals are missed when the video is turned off so ask attendees to switch on their video full engagement.
- Avoid too many attendees. It’s preferable to have the maximum that can fit on one screen so you can be connected to all attendees.
- Listen actively
- It’s all too easy to forget that your meeting is attended by “flesh and blood” people. We need to ensure that we engage with everyone, including the quiet introverted attendees.
- Call people by their name, it maintains high engagement.
- Be sure to include all attendees including people of colour, and women. Everyone deserves equal airtime.
Whilst our working environment may have changed, human behaviour still presents the same wants, needs and desires. Your employees need strong leadership to steer a safe course. In our contemporary landscape, today’s leaders need to evolve to suit the new norm. It’s time to embrace empathy and mindfulness to maintain and improve human connection within our workplace.
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