Maybe We Won’t Go Back to In-Person Meetings, Ever
I’m pretty sure that—when you long for the trappings of your previously normal life—in-person meetings aren’t at the top of your “things I wish I could do again” list. (At the top of my list? Hugging my adult daughter, who I haven’t seen for almost ten months.)
Nobody loved in-person meetings when they were happening. We all knew that:
- We were going to too many meetings,
- They were too long, and usually too unfocused, and that
- Many meetings are held for reasons that are obscure, at best, and insulting at worst (“But we always meet on Fridays.”)
Today, we often find ourselves in meetings that have these failings plus the delights of a virtual environment—frequently bad sound, intermittently frozen screens, and the regrettably common birds-eye views of our colleagues’ chins or bedroom ceilings.
So how could Zoom meetings be better?
Three Things to Love about Zoom Meetings
As my “side hustle” during the pandemic, I’ve been moderating lots of Zoom meetings (someone else leads them; my job is to keep things moving).
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
1. You’ll Often Get Better Turnout
Wrangling attendees isn’t an issue for business meetings, which are basically command performances.
But if you’re meeting with a group of volunteers, or the other owners in your coop apartment building, Zoom makes it easier for people to show up. No commute, no suit, just click the link and you’re in.
This means that more people can easily attend. And better turn out makes it likely that you’ll get more wide-ranging input, and more universal buy-in, for whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
2. People Are Often More Restrained (and If They’re Not, It’s Easier for You to Restrain Them)
Yes, there will always be folks who want to air their pet peeves or endlessly debate an item that nobody else cares about. But meeting participants are often less aggressive in Zoom meetings—perhaps because of its strangeness, or because they feel “on the spot” in a different way.
As the meeting Host or Co-Host, you can also influence (or even control) who speaks, how often, and for how long, with these tricks:
- Ask meeting participants to send in their questions or comment using the chat function
- Ask them to use the “raise hand” feature to be recognized (this slows things down, as they can’t just blurt out whatever’s on their minds)
- Take away the ability of participants to unmute themselves unless a host or co-host releases them (with the “ask to unmute” feature)
And though I haven’t had to do this yet, as a Host or Co-Host, you can easily remove disruptive people from a Zoom meeting—something that’s hard to do in a physical setting.
3. Zoom Meetings Are Often Shorter
Getting to physical meetings was a chore—and so, once we arrived, the temptation was to linger, sipping coffee and chatting with friends. Unless the meeting leader was very disciplined, things could easily spill over… and over.
Not so with Zoom. There’s no coffee service, chatting with friends is different when lots of other people are listening in, and the virtual environment doesn’t entice us to linger.
All of this can lead to a clear consensus that your meeting should be brisk, efficient, and over soon! After all, there’s that next Zoom call to get to…
If You’re a Zoom Meeting Leader who Wants More Strategies…
The role of meeting leader can be a tough one, with or without adding virtuality. Contact me for a session on the public speaking strategies that can help your meeting shine!