EP. 31 Increase Connection and Communication by Avoiding These 8 Virtual Meeting Mistakes

Team Anywhere Leadership Podcast

Mar 29 2021 • 36 mins

In today's episode, we interview Gwen Stirling Wilkie, author of From Physical Place to Virtual Space. In this episode, she emphasizes that our team meetings will need to be more purposeful, build stronger connections and be open to new ways to collaborate and co-create. Inside this episode you’ll learn about eight common mistakes leaders make when leading virtual meetings:

1. Copying & Pasting the In-Person Meeting to a Virtual Setting

Full-day meetings are typical when everyone is in the office. In these meetings, leaders have time to introduce some context, have several presentations and then have a discussion around certain topics.

Virtual meetings need to be structured in a different way. Meet shorter and more frequently. In-office meetings often can run smoothly for 60 minutes. But virtual meetings should be shorter and more frequent.

2. Jumping Right Into Business
Leaders tend to want to knock tasks off a list, but miss the essential need for connection. One thing many  people are missing in the virtual world is our sense of connection.

Leaders need to remember “connection before content”, and they have a responsibility to connect. Leaders make sure people feel listened to, valued, appreciated and a part of the team.

3. Unrealistic Expectations of Attention Spans
Our attention spans are much shorter in the virtual world. It’s much harder to concentrate for a long period of time and recent research from Stanford University acknowledges the impact of ‘Zoom fatigue’. We face many distractions at home; the dog barking, the lawnmower running outside, Amazon ringing on your door bell.

4. Not Using Pre-work Strategically
One way to leverage that time, is to create preparation work; work done by attendees before the virtual meeting itself. When leading and planning online meetings, leaders think about themselves as master event planners. Completing work before the virtual meeting allows space during the meeting to bring different stakeholders together to share their unique perspectives and generate breakthrough thinking.

5. Trying to make a Hybrid Meeting “Inclusive”

Whether you want to admit it or not, the truth is, we’ve all tried this. If you haven’t tried it, you’ve been in a meeting where someone else tried it. Attempting a meeting where half of the people are in person and several other people are somehow on Zoom is a recipe for disaster.

6. “Having” All the Answers
Leaders need to be in a mindset of being more like a talk show host when they are leading virtual meetings. The purpose of having the meeting isn’t so that you (the leader) can come up with all of the answers. The purpose of the meeting is to get everyone's contributions and perspectives so that the team can create the best answer. “Having” all the answers causes your team to depend on you to “have” all the answers, and they will then never come up with their own.

7. Using Technology Above the Participants Skill Levels
Leaders need to consider the technological skill level of the meeting participants. After identifying the skill level, leaders can choose technology that is appropriate for everyone.

8. Avoiding Conversations that Create Accountability

Working virtually has given us more of an excuse to avoid hard conversations. Whether you’re working virtually or in person, as a leader, it’s your responsibility to have conversations that create accountability, and to do so with the right approach, right spirit, and right intent.

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