Maximizing remote meetings

Sep 06, 2021

Working remotely can be convenient and productive, but it can also be frustrating, particularly when it comes to meetings. We have all experienced terrible zoom meetings. The team member whose connection is spotty. The dog that keeps barking in the background. The moment when everyone tries talking at the same time.

There are other challenges, too. According to Forbes:

  • 40% of employees have experienced mental exhaustion from video calls.
  • 52% of employees said background noise or poor audio quality has disrupted their focus.
  • 38% of employees reported feeling exhausted after a week of virtual meetings and 30% felt stressed.

Zoom fatigue is real. If you cannot get your online meetings into a productive rhythm, you risk wasting time and exhausting your team. With more and more businesses moving toward a remote model, this is something we can’t afford to ignore.

Here are four tactics to ensure you and your team have successful remote meetings:

  1. Find a neutral location. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you do not have a dedicated remote office, things like dirty dishes or an unmade bed in the background can be visually distracting for meeting participants. Make sure to tidy up anything that will be visible in your video frame. A neat space helps keep the attention of others where it needs to be.


  1. Minimize background noise. This can be hard to get around. A pet, nearby lawn mower, or children can get picked up in your microphone and be distracting for everyone. To minimize that, enlist the help of others in your home or workspace when you know you’ll be on a video-conference call. If that’s not possible, mute yourself when you’re not speaking, and be sure to silence your devices and disable notifications.


  1. Limit the number and length of meetings. A crucial first step toward better meetings is deciding whether a meeting is necessary. Many are not. Sadly, video technology makes it more tempting to hold meetings simply because it is easy to just click a link. This is one of the main contributors to zoom fatigue. In fact, one study showed that the number of meetings increased by 13% when people switched to remote work. Don’t fall into this trap. When you do need to have a meeting, limit its length. Avoid open-ended meetings, and schedule a follow-up if necessary instead.


  1. Stop when you achieve the desired outcome. If you have reached the desired outcome before the scheduled stop time, end the meeting. Do not look for more work to fill that time. Your team will be grateful for the additional time back to complete their individual tasks. And be careful about too much small talk at the end of a meeting. While some conversation may strengthen relationships, it can lose its value if participants feel like they’re not free to move on to other work.

It is possible to communicate well and have highly productive remote meetings without the stress or fatigue. Remote meetings are not the problem; they just have some problems. But they’re problems that can be solved. What changes can you make so your team can have better, more focused remote meetings?


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