The meeting started well. All the participants showed up on time, so we were able to begin the meeting on time. Each person showed up with their camera on, listening, and answering questions when necessary. Then I began to notice about 15 minutes into the meeting, several people looking in other directions instead of at the camera. When the leader asked a question, those participants who were looking in different directions didn’t respond or worse; the leader needed to repeat the question because “they didn’t hear it asked.” I then noticed cameras beginning to be turned off several times throughout the meeting. When the participant turned his or her camera back on, their participation was minimal at best. The meeting’s purpose was to make sure everyone was aware of some changes that were needed and also to brainstorm on the best way to implement these changes within the company. The meeting lasted for 90 minutes, although it could have been completed in one hour. Why did it go on 30 minutes longer than it needed to?
Multi-tasking was the killer
Most of us multi-task, and we believe we are good at it. I read several studies on the subject, and each study reveals that when we multi-task, none of the tasks are completed at full potential. And most times, each task takes longer than if we focused on that one task. I have personally completed some of the research experiments on myself and realized firsthand the same result.
So why do so many of us not think that we can efficiently multi-task during a virtual meeting and still achieve top results?
Working from home can be a challenge, mostly since so many of us never did it before the COVID restrictions. We were not trained on how to work from home and instead just thrown into. Some have figured out how to be productive at home; many have not. It begins with your mindset. Would you be working in the same way if you were at the office with your coworkers as you do at home? If the answer is no, then why?
If you were at the office and a coworker came to your desk to ask you a question, would you continue to type and answer email while he or she was asking you a question? The answer is no, of course, you wouldn’t. You might say, give me a minute to finish this email, and we can talk, which is perfectly acceptable. Continually multi-tasking while trying to have a business conversation is not productive.
Challenge yourself to be present throughout the meeting. Only view the screen with the virtual meeting. If you have more than one screen, close out the programs on the other screens, so you aren’t tempted to read the email as it comes in or view other software distractions. If those notifications that pop up on your screen lead you to look at them, it would serve you best to turn them off while you are in the meeting.
What you will discover is your meetings will be more productive. Your coworkers will respect you more. Best of all, your meetings will begin and end on time. If you are leading the meeting, let all know beforehand you intend to start and end on time – IF all join on time and participate during the meeting.
When everyone is present in the meeting, the experience will be more enjoyable, collaborative, and productive. Virtual meetings are a necessity. That doesn’t mean we should dread them. Challenge yourself and your team to be present during the duration, and you will experience positive results.