Online meetings—also known as virtual meetings or web conferences—are one of the main ways we connect with coworkers when working remotely. But, they can also be exhausting.
It’s tempting to flick through emails or Slack messages during a meeting, but multitasking can decrease productivity and make it difficult to remember what was discussed.
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Online meetings have their benefits, but also come with some drawbacks. One of those is distraction. Meetings go on longer than they should, and it’s easy to lose focus. This is especially true when a meeting is virtual. There are pinging notifications, chat windows, links to the shared documents, and even social media ready to distract attendees.
In addition, the environment an attendee is in – whether their office, bedroom, or living room – can also be distracting during virtual meetings. They aren’t able to close their door, which means they may be exposed to noise, people talking in the next room, or even their kids screaming.
One way to reduce distraction is to send prep materials that are visually interesting and engaging. It’s also helpful to set up a meeting with an assigned timekeeper, as that will keep everyone focused on the agenda and avoid going over the scheduled time. You can also hide your own image from the participants using Zoom, or use a post-it or screencasting software to remove yourself from the camera view.
Seeing Yourself in Real-Time
The ability to see yourself during online meetings is a great convenience but it’s also distracting. This can lead to fidgeting, texting or scrolling through news sites and it takes away from your productivity. Plus, it can make you feel uncomfortable or nervous.
It’s also harder to see facial expressions in a virtual meeting, which makes it difficult for attendees to really get to know each other. Facial expressions are key in communicating empathy, which is important in the workplace.
When you’re distracted during an online meeting, you can miss valuable information and end up having to catch up later. This can make the meeting more time consuming and stressful than it needs to be. If possible, try to limit the number of online meetings you have. If they are necessary, try to keep them short and to the point. Also, try to mute your phone or read through any notifications before the meeting starts.
The practice of self-reflection is an important part of learning and personal development. It can help you understand your own thoughts and actions as well as make positive changes to improve yourself. However, if not done correctly, it can be distracting during online meetings.
For example, if you find yourself thinking about another task or replying to emails during a meeting then that will prevent you from paying attention to what is being discussed and could cause you to miss vital information. This can result in a stressful meeting or more work later as you try to catch up.
This is why it’s essential to be mindful of how you reflect during online meetings and only take on board what adds value to your life. Some methods you might use to reflect include writing, mindfulness and breathing exercises like focusing on your breath or progressive muscle relaxation. You might also consider taking yourself out of your comfort zone as a way to reflect – this can be physically or emotionally challenging, but it is a great tool for improving and developing yourself.
Lack of Flexibility
Even in the best of times, virtual meetings can be exhausting. That said, they don’t have to be.
Oftentimes, online meetings are needed for longer collaborative dialogues like training sessions or committee briefings. They also allow companies to tap into audiences worldwide without having to spend money on travel expenses for employees or clients.
While online meetings are easier to plan than in-person meetings, they still need proper preparations. This may include choosing a meeting room that will accommodate everyone. It is essential to provide adequate technical support and training for participants, especially when inviting guests from overseas.
Another thing to consider is that when people are invited to an online meeting, they might feel obligated to attend. Having too many attendees in a meeting can be a waste of time as well as the resources required to hold it. It is important to only invite those who will be able to contribute and to make the meeting as productive as possible.