Even as some companies are going back into the office, many of us are still working remotely, at least some of the time. By now, the novelty of rolling out of bed and into our ‘office’ has worn off and most of us are sick to death of Zoom meetings.
Whilst many meetings, even in person, are highly ineffective, they at least provide a certain level of energy simply through sharing a space. Remote meetings, on the other hand, can feel incredibly draining. This is for various reasons: we have to work harder to communicate and understand each other, technical glitches can make us feel even less connected than if we weren’t talking, and it’s VERY hard not to look at our own faces and spend half the time worrying about the bags under our eyes.
Meetings are where everyone is involved and should be kept to the people who will actually be contributing.
But gathering is essential to most businesses and big, in-person, meetings are unlikely to happen for a while, so how do we overcome this?
Start well. Factor in 5 minutes for everyone to deal with their connectivity issues and then whoever is running the meeting should clearly indicate that the meeting is officially starting, state the objectives and ask everyone to…
Turn the camera on. I know it’s awkward being watched, but cameras on should be a mandatory unless you have really, really bad internet. Having it off creates a sense of disconnection and tells whoever is speaking that you don’t really care. If you’re on Zoom, I recommend minimizing your own screen if you’re in speaker mode so you don’t get distracted by examining your own pores.
Facilitate! Active facilitation is key – it’s a lot of work for the meeting lead but it’s vital to get everyone involved. “Are there any questions?” will always be met with silence, so make a habit of calling on specific individuals – it’ll make everyone feel included and has the added benefit of making people pay attention in case they’re called out.
Keep it as small as possible. Understand the difference between a meeting and an announcement. If it’s an announcement, can it be done via a recorded video or even an email? Meetings are where everyone is involved and should be kept to the people who will actually be contributing. If anyone is there just to listen, they can arguably be kept in the loop via the meeting minutes (this applies to in person meetings too!)
Integrate movement or breath. It’ll feel strange, but it’ll feel great once you get over the awkwardness. Invite all participants to breathe deeply for 30 seconds or lead them through 2 minutes of physical warm-up. It’ll invigorate everyone and it breaks up the endless sitting.
Hopefully incorporating even a few of these suggestions will make the endless online meetings more bearable.
We’ve been refining our approach to remote workshops over these past few months, so if you have one coming up and you need some help, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.