Online meetings have become the backbone of remote work, yet we often find ourselves navigating through them as if in a labyrinth of do's and don'ts.
Have you ever found yourself drifting away during an online meeting, only to snap back to reality when you heard your name? You may relate to the awkward moment when no one remembers what the next action point was, or the embarrassment of being caught unprepared.
If so, keep reading, because we're about to delve into the top mistakes made during online meetings.
Top 9 Mistakes in Online Meetings
Mistake 1: Not Starting with a Clear Agenda
A clear agenda sets the direction for productive meetings. Lack of it can lead to scattered discussions and wasted time.
Consider Paul, a senior sales manager, known for initiating impromptu meetings without clear agendas. In one meeting intended to discuss sales strategies, the absence of a structured plan leads to unfocused conversations.
By the time the team finally reaches the intended topic, the meeting time is nearly exhausted, leaving discussions incomplete and future actions unclear.
Mistake 2: Distractions During Meetings
We are all guilty of succumbing to distractions at one point or another, emails, social media, notifications,... In an online meeting setting, these distractions can gradually chip away at the focus and productivity of a meeting, like water eroding rock over time.
Sarah is a seasoned project manager. She is well-respected, diligent, and a master of her craft. However, she has developed a habit of continuously checking her emails throughout the day, even during online meetings.
During a particular online meeting, Sarah receives an email alert about a possible issue from a client.
Concerned, she starts drafting a response immediately, trying to assuage the situation, believing she can multi-task and stay abreast of the ongoing meeting.
While she is juggling the client email, a critical discussion takes place about an upcoming project deadline. To meet this deadline, everyone will need to reallocate their tasks and focus on the project.
After the meeting, Sarah, not fully aware of the project's urgency, continues her regular task flow. This leads to a bottleneck in the project's progress as her team waits for her to finish her crucial part.
Mistake 3: Multitasking
Multitasking, despite its allure, often results in reduced focus on individual tasks. In the context of online meetings, it can lead to decreased engagement and can sometimes have far-reaching impacts on the team's collective goals.
Consider the story of Mark, an IT specialist. Known for his ability to solve complex issues swiftly, Mark is often juggling multiple tasks simultaneously. His mantra? Efficiency is doing everything that's possible in the shortest amount of time.
One afternoon, Mark is engaged in a strategy meeting with his team. Just as the meeting commences, Mark receives a bug ticket. He mutes his microphone, minimizes the meeting window, and dives into troubleshooting mode.
While Mark is knee-deep in lines of code, his team is knee-deep in discussion, deliberating over the company's new strategic direction and the pivotal role the IT department will play in it. Decisions are made, tasks are assigned, and the meeting concludes.
When Mark finally fixes the bug and reverts to the meeting window, he finds it has ended. He catches up with his team later and realizes the misalignment: while the team has shifted their focus to the new strategic goals, Mark, unaware of the shift, is still working on the old plan.
Mistake 4: Ignoring Meeting Etiquette
Meeting etiquette forms the unwritten rules that facilitate respectful and productive interaction in meetings. It's easy to dismiss etiquette, but it can lead to misunderstandings and a hostile environment, detracting from the meeting's objective.
Jennifer is a team leader in a fast-paced tech company. Jennifer is dynamic and driven, but her impatience often leads her to interrupt team members during online meetings.
Her objective isn't to undermine anyone, but to expedite decision-making. However, her team perceives it differently.
One day, during a critical project meeting, her team member, David, is presenting a new strategy that he's worked hard on.
Just as David begins to delve into the core ideas, Jennifer, in her haste, interrupts him to ask probing questions. David, caught off guard, loses his train of thought and struggles to get back on track. The flow of his presentation is broken, and the crucial details he'd planned to emphasize get lost in the shuffle.
Jennifer's interruption has several unintended consequences. David feels disrespected and undermined.
The rest of the team, observing this, become more reluctant to share their ideas, fearing similar interruptions. The environment becomes less collaborative, and resentment brews.
Mistake 5: Overrunning Time
Timeliness is a critical aspect of efficient meetings. When meetings overrun their scheduled timeframe, it not only frustrates participants but can also lead to a decrease in productivity.
Take the case of John, the head of the marketing department. John is known for his engaging meetings but has a habit of letting them run over time. A meeting scheduled for 30 minutes often extends by an additional 15 minutes.
At first glance, an extra 15 minutes might seem inconsequential. However, when this overrun becomes a pattern, it starts affecting the team's productivity and overall morale.
Picture a typical day for a team member, Rachel. She plans her tasks around John's 30-minute meeting. When it extends, it disrupts her workflow. She has to reschedule her tasks, which results in a rushed and stress-filled workday.
As this becomes a recurring pattern, Rachel, along with other team members, starts feeling their time isn't valued. They become less engaged in future meetings and begin to view them as obstacles to their productivity rather than collaborative platforms.
Mistake 6: Jargons during meetings
Effective meetings rely on clear, accessible communication. The introduction of complex jargon can create confusion, make colleagues feel overwhelmed, and ultimately hinder decision-making.
Anna, a business analyst, known for deep dives into data, but during her presentations, she uses an abundance of statistical terminologies and acronyms.
This complex language leaves her colleagues more bewildered than enlightened.
Anna's jargon-filled talk not only complicates understanding but also makes her colleagues feel uncomfortable.
No one wants to appear ignorant, and rather than continuously ask for clarification, some team members tune out, disengaging from the meeting
Mistake 7: Lack of Engagement
Active engagement is essential for productive meetings. Lack of it can unintentionally affect decision-making and overall outcomes.
Consider Lisa, a mid-level professional in a software firm. Normally an active participant, she's been consumed with project tasks and her engagement in meetings has decreased.
In one critical meeting, the team discusses streamlining their project management system. Preoccupied with her work, Lisa stays on the periphery of the conversation, not sharing her valuable insights from a similar past project.
As the team moves forward, they face challenges Lisa had previously overcome. This delay could have been prevented if Lisa had been more engaged.
Mistake 8: Not making summary
Concluding a meeting without a summary or key takeaway points can leave participants unclear about the decisions made and actions required.
Consider the case of Tom, a product manager. Tom's meetings are packed with information and productive discussions, but he has a habit of abruptly ending the call without summarizing the key points or outlining the next steps.
In one of these meetings, his team discusses several ideas for a new feature of their app. Everyone contributes, and by the end of the meeting, several directions and action points have been raised.
However, without a closing summary, team members leave the meeting unsure of the final decision and unclear about their individual responsibilities.
Over the next few days, confusion reigns. Team members embark on different paths, thinking their direction was the chosen one.
Mistake 9: Neglecting Post-Meeting Follow-up
Post-meeting follow-ups are critical to keeping everyone accountable and ensuring that the decisions made during the meeting translate into action.
Continuing from the previous scenario, Tom, the product manager, while making strides in summarizing meetings, still overlooks the crucial aspect of post-meeting follow-ups.
After implementing meeting summaries, the team's clarity on tasks and decisions improves. However, Tom does not establish a system to track the progress of these action items post-meeting.
In one instance, a key feature upgrade for their app is discussed and assigned during a meeting. Everyone leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of what needs to be done. Yet, without a follow-up system in place, there is no mechanism to track the progress or completion of these tasks.
Days turn into weeks, and during a review, Tom realizes that the key feature upgrade, initially assigned and agreed upon, hasn't been developed as expected.
Solutions to turning your mistakes to your wins
Crystalize Your Meeting Agendas
Prevent unfocused and scattered discussions by always starting meetings with a clear, structured agenda.
Detail the purpose, key discussion points, expected outcomes, and the roles of each participant. Share the agenda ahead of time to allow everyone to prepare.
Embrace Mindfulness and Eliminate Distractions
Enhance meeting focus and productivity by eliminating distractions and resisting the urge to multitask.
Encourage participants to close unnecessary tabs, mute notifications, and fully commit to the meeting at hand. Foster an environment conducive to focused work during meetings.
Respect through Clear Communication and Meeting Etiquette
Establish a respectful and collaborative environment by adhering to basic meeting etiquette, such as not interrupting others, and communicating clearly. Use simple language and avoid unnecessary jargon.
If technical terms or acronyms are required, ensure everyone understands them. This respectful and clear communication fosters a platform for all participants to express their ideas.
Value Time and Stick to Your Schedule
Demonstrate respect for everyone's time by sticking to the scheduled timeframe for meetings. If a meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, do your best not to exceed this.
Regular overruns can lead to frustration, decreased productivity, and the feeling that time is not being valued.
Encourage Active Participation
Promote active participation in meetings by welcoming questions, ideas, and feedback from all attendees.
Encouraging everyone to contribute their experiences and ideas, like Lisa's insights, can prevent delays and enhance the overall output.
Harness Technology for Clear Summary and Efficient Follow-up
End each meeting with a summary of key points, decisions, and tasks assigned, ensuring that everyone leaves with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. Using a tool like Wudpecker can greatly enhance the efficiency of this process.
Wudpecker transcribes and records online meetings, allowing for easy generation of summaries and action points. This ensures that everyone stays on the same page after the meeting.
- Wudpecker can extract insights despite the meeting length
- Offers quality summaries and transcripts, making it easy to review meetings and find important insights quickly
- Transcription available in 100+ languages
- Records calls for later reference and sharing with remote team members
- Allows users to create snippets from recordings, making it easy to share important sections of a meeting with others
- Recognizes speakers during the meeting and separates their dialogue in the transcript, making it easy to follow along and attribute comments to the correct person
Navigating the landscape of online meetings can be tricky, but awareness of common mistakes and how to avoid them can significantly improve the productivity of your meetings. Leveraging tools like Wudpecker can further enhance your online meeting experience. Next time you log into a meeting, remember these tips to maximize your productivity and effectiveness.