8 online meeting fails and how to avoid them

From awkward silences to dodgy tech, we explore the online fails that can affect your team dynamic and business productivity. Here’s our advice on how to avoid them. 

Think online meeting fails and what comes to mind? The kids who walk in while their parent is talking on live TV, the inappropriate art in the background, or the time the audio wasn’t muted when it should have been – the internet is full of them.

At Connect4, we think the real online fails are inefficient meetings that can really have an impact on your productivity, client relations and team spirit. Here then, are our 8 most common online meeting fails, and how to avoid them.

1. I can’t get that personal connection with my client over video 

When we’re on a video call our eyes are naturally drawn to the video of the other person (or even ourselves!), meaning your client sees you looking down or to one side. Training yourself to look at the webcam means your client can see you looking into their eyes, strengthening that emotional connection. 

2. Our timekeeping is terrible as there are no cues for a meeting ending

Unlike being in an office, (where someone else might have booked the room), there are no natural endings for online meetings. But having a structured agenda from the start – with desirable outcomes and time limits put against each item – chances are you’ll be able to finish on time. Relief!

3. We spend the first ten minutes debating what we’d decided at the last meeting

Talking of wasting time, this one’s a real time suck and starts the meeting on a less than positive note. Get into the habit of summarising and circulating decisions and action points shortly after each meeting, so you’re starting the next one on the front foot.  

4. One or two people to dominate the call

Video calls don’t suit everyone and it can be all too easy for the extrovert 20% of your team to do 80% of the talking. When hosting a video call with a large group, try to ask specific questions to specific people, and use their names, which establishes who will be answering the question. 

5. I’m missing those non-verbal responses 

It’s much harder and more tiring  to read those non-verbal cues in an online rather than face to face setting, but as you get accustomed to running remote meetings, you’ll get more of a feel for what’s working for your colleagues and what’s not. Feedback is crucial, and you can ask  for anonymous feedback by setting up a poll in your work chat, or just checking in with your team in your 1-2-1s.

6. My tech keeps failing or cutting out 

You’d be surprised how much tech fails can affect the dynamic and flow of an online meeting. So if your wifi connection is patchy, and the meeting really important, check your wifi speed first, as download speeds below 20 Mbps could cause problems. Alternatively, you might want to use a hardwired connection via ethernet cable.

7. Online meetings make it harder to keep track of decisions made

Ever been in an online meeting where everyone assumes that someone else is taking notes? You’d be surprised how much harder it can be in an online meeting to keep track of what’s been decided. Connect4 assigns one person in each meeting as note taker, meaning there’s no confusion about what’s been agreed.

8. My team leaves the call with more questions than answers

Connect4 lets you record a short video summary at the end of your meetings, meaning that all key decisions are captured. And if someone missed it or just needs clarification on a point, they’ve got the highlights right there, rather than having to sit through the whole thing.
There are a few things out of your control with the move online, but with these tactics you’ll ensure that even if your cat decides to take over, your meetings are clear, accountable and productive.

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Kate Brewin

Kate helps ambitious start-ups translate their great ideas into a smart proposition and social strategy that gets results. In her spare time she likes exploring the beautiful countryside around Cambridge.

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