Virtual meetings are an essential part of today’s working life. However, they are often difficult to manage and, in some cases, can become a frustrating waste of time.
In this article, we examine the most common problems that occur when scheduling videoconferences and give a few tips on how to solve them easily.
1. Too many platforms to choose from
How many videoconferencing platforms have you tried so far? Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet, Go To… the list goes on.
We are currently in one of those moments when the variety of services is so vast that it can become a problem.
To select the most suitable platform, exclude all software that doesn’t integrate with your business system, establish whether you need to organise more internal or external meetings and assess the technological aptitude of your employees.
The choice should be made by taking these factors into account and by subsequently identifying a common platform that can be used by the whole company (and for which all other workers could be trained).
2. Technological problems
The ‘pixelated’ image, the robotic voice, the echo and reverberations… online meetings, unlike physical meetings, unfortunately present a number of technological problems that can reduce its productivity.
The start of a virtual meeting is often delayed, especially if there is complex technology to set up or new people who are unfamiliar with the system. Short-term problems, such as difficulty in connecting, can be easily resolved through simple tests before the videoconference begins.
Other problems, related to audio and connection, require an investment by the company: from the purchase of headsets and new generation webcams to an improvement of the internet network.
By investing in infrastructure today, you can make a positive contribution to the efficiency of future meetings.
3. Communication gaps
Some people know the entire meeting agenda, others think that a totally different topic should be discussed, others don’t know anything about the previous conversations and others have already attended an identical meeting.
Communication gaps (the information difference between participants) are one of the major causes of unproductivity, both in videoconferencing and physical meetings.
In face-to-face meetings it‘s possible to perceive, either by gestures or other signals, a possible discomfort of the collaborator. This aspect becomes more complicated when online.
Therefore, it’s important to define and share the meeting program in advance, instead of spending the whole virtual meeting going through presentations.
If the agenda is shared in advance (meeting agenda), comments and analysis can be made before the meeting starts and any questions can be answered in private, without wasting the participants’ time. The virtual meeting can be used to focus on people’s questions and on areas of interest.
In this article we share some useful tips.
4. Undefined roles and tasks
The meeting agenda, as mentioned previously, is very important, but often online there is a lack of people to enforce it.
In order to avoid misunderstandings, it is necessary to identify beforehand the main speaker (who will lead the conversation towards the most suitable topics for achieving the objectives), and the person who will be in charge of recording all the decisions taken. A final summary email, addressed to all participants, can further help avoiding oversights and assigning tasks to the most appropriate professionals.
5. “Zoom fatigue”
Named after one of the most popular platforms, this is one of the most common problems encountered in recent months: fatigue (psychological and physical) from videoconferencing.
The symptoms (empirically determined because there are no extensive studies on the subject yet) of Zoom fatigue are the following: difficulty in concentrating, joint pains, increased impatience, headaches and blurred vision.
There are many elements that can create this kind of discomfort: the position held in front of the computer, the need to always be in front of a screen, the difficulty in picking up non-verbal communication signals and constantly seeing one’s own image reflected in the monitor screen.
Another aspect of zoom fatigue, emphasised by other psychology researchers, is linked to this extraordinary period of reclusion due to COVID-19. The same items are used in the same place (home) both for work, education and leisure. This wouldn’t happen however in “real life”, because the human mind needs to compartmentalise all different spheres and social roles.
It’s important to limit the number of online meetings (often ‘abused’ by overzealous managers) and their duration. According to some experts, videoconferences should not exceed 45 minutes and a break of at least 15 minutes should be taken between meetings.
6. Lack of trust between team members
Collaboration is a necessity during virtual meetings in order to engage people and work together. Mutual trust is crucial for the productivity of a team and is often undermined in online meetings. There are ways to create and maintain this trust, and in most cases, they start with the management team: in this article we analyse them in detail and give some useful tips.