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Virtual Meetings: Are You There Yet?



While on a positive note COVID crisis fast-tracked the acceptance of virtual working platforms, different forms of meeting demons are rising. Many individuals are already complaining about Virtual meeting fatigue. They are already talking about the futility of these meetings. They have started to wonder about why they are being called into meetings where they were never called in past. What's happening here? Aren't we all were positively surprised that even naysayers have adapted to these new forms of meetings so quickly? So, what went wrong and where lies the solutions. We have been always aware about the various problems of multiple meetings, ill-managed meetings, agenda-less meetings, meeting and meeting fatigues. In the pre-COVID world, we have heard from executives that they are part of many meetings and it doesn't leave them with any productive time.



They always complained that they are hardly left with any productive time. Now when I talk to colleagues across industries, I find that what was earlier a smaller demon has now turned into a gigantic one. Some of the newer elements which are getting added to the already existing problems of meetings are:

1.   As there are no space constraints of meeting rooms, the invitee list of meetings has increased by 100-200%.

2. As the persons have a choice to attend by switching the video off. They are accepting more than one meeting invites at the same time and thereby reducing their effective contributions to any of those meetings.

3. The number of side discussions has increased many folds and thereby it's increasing the numbers of meetings which concludes without any outcome.

4.    As the participants have increased from earlier days. Number people who come to meetings unprepared have also increased.

5.     As most of the people are attending meetings from their desk, they seem to leave and join the meeting at their will. This is resulting in awkward situations, where someone asks or addresses an individual during the meeting assuming he/she is present, but that person actually is missing.

6.     In many organizations, technical glitches are making these meetings a joke and kill a lot of productive time. These glitches are emerging as all their desktops, laptops, Projectors are not having similar compatible configurations. 

7.     One of the funny pieces is also around lack common awareness of these new ways among Employees. Every second or third meeting you will see a new one consuming precious time of everyone in the meeting by trying to learn it the first time.

8.     Last but not the least, we are seeing a considerable amount of personal time being eaten away as hosts organizing it thinks that virtual meetings can be arranged at any time. Individuals just have to take out that 30-60 minutes out of their family time. Anyway, the person doesn’t have to move out of the home.

If we think about resolving all of the above problems, the solutions can be visualized under four themes:  


1. Mindset

2. Technology and Awareness

3. Respect for Personal Space and Time

4. Process

1. Mindset

Use this as an opportunity to get rid of the malaise of meetings which already existed even before this new normal. As we transition to new Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet etc., It's important to make a commitment that you will:


a) cut down your meetings by 2/3rd. b) Meetings will close on time.  c) Make sure you have fewer attendees in a new environment than the physical era.

2. Technology and awareness

Although we all entered into it unplanned and appreciate that everyone took to it like fish to water, it doesn't diminish the requirement to do the following:

a) review all your IT infrastructure and its compatibility for diverse platforms. Invest in standardization. This will pay you in future as it's a non-reversible change.

b) Although it's easy to understand, invest in educating and training your Employees on meeting etiquettes and especially about how virtual is different than physical.

3. Respect for Personal Space and Time

Train Employees and individuals holding leadership positions about the concept of personal time and space. Tell them they have no business intruding into their Employees personal space and time.

4. Process

Any changes when it's new requires some processes to start with. Define some simple dos and don'ts of virtual meetings. Lay down some simple guidelines to start with before virtual becomes fully new normal

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