Effective Meetings – 9 Common Mistakes To Avoid

15 Sep 2015

Outsourcing and globalization have produced geographically diverse companies that operate in multiple countries and continents, and comprised of remote teams whose members are working in various time zones. Although technology solutions like conference calling apps and Skype have helped facilitate effective collaboration in such cases, even with the latest and greatest technologies people still make mistakes while communicating during a remote meeting. Here are 9 of the most common communication mistakes to avoid for effective meetings, particularly if you’re conducting or participating in a remote meeting.

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Mistakes To Avoid: Not connecting in time

With a physical meeting it’s easy to just walk by your coworker’s office or cubicle or simply signal with a wave to let them know that you’ll be joining the meeting soon. In a remote meeting however, if you’re running late, no one knows if and when you’ll be joining in. So it’s better to join such meetings on time and be well prepared, or better yet, be early so you don’t miss out on any of the discussion points.

Mistakes To Avoid: Not assigning a moderator

In remote meetings, since all the participants are not in the same room, the need for a moderator is much greater than in a conventional meeting, to keep the meeting focused on the agenda and on schedule. This person should be well versed with all aspects of meeting management, including things like controlling the mute switch, how to post questions and retrieve responses from the collaboration software being used and how to transfer control between participants (among others).

Mistakes To Avoid: Not having a predefined agenda

Beginning a remote meeting without a pre-planned and shared agenda is a recipe for disaster because you have a limited window and typically at least one attendee who’s joining in after office hours, so there’s room for general banter. The meeting should have a set agenda which should be followed to the letter so that everyone’s time is utilized effectively. The most effective agendas are ones that invite everyone to contribute so that all the attendees remain engaged throughout the meeting. The moderator is responsible for creating and sharing the meeting agenda with all attendees prior to the meeting.

Mistakes To Avoid: Watercooler conversations

‘Watercooler’ banter is fine while you’re waiting for other participants to join the meeting, but once the remote meeting starts all participants should focus on the discussion at hand, and save the side conversations for later.

Mistakes To Avoid: Checking Emails, Phones, Laptops

Since not all members are physically present in a remote meeting, it’s very easy to lose track of the conversation. In such cases, checking your email, phone or laptop during the meeting is actually counterproductive because you’re not engaged in the discussion at hand. It’s best to remove such distractions so you can stay focused on the conversation.

Mistakes To Avoid: Inviting optional attendees

If certain personnel are not relevant to the meeting, it’s best to leave them out, even if including them might save you an additional conversation. Don’t force them attend a meeting where only one of ten items pertains to them. It’s best to respect their time and communicate the relevant points to them later.

Mistakes To Avoid: Having side conversations on mute

Since remote team members can’t see you, it’s quite tempting to put yourself on mute and have a side discussion or follow up on another task. That is a mistake since what you’re doing is counterproductive to the meeting itself. Instead of going on mute, try and comment on what the other participants are saying and try to stay involved in the discussion.

Mistakes To Avoid: Not using video

Concentrating on the alien shaped polycom device sitting in your boardroom isn’t easy. Try and do a video call instead as that can solve most of the problems listed above, by allowing everyone to stay engaged, since everyone can see other in a video call.

Mistakes To Avoid: Not sharing takeaways and action items

One of the biggest challenges in a remote meeting is making sure everyone participates while sitting miles apart. Making the attendees remember action items from the meeting is another major issue. So its best to distribute a short summary of takeaways and action items immediately after the meeting to all the participants, otherwise you’ll just spend the next meeting rehashing the same agenda.

Effective Meetings – Wrapping Up

So whether you’re conducting or participating in a remote meeting, avoiding these common mistakes can help you plan and conduct much more effective meetings. For most of the tips mentioned above, you can use an app like MeetingMogul, since it provides one-touch conference call notifications and dial-in, collaborative agenda planning and the ability to share notes and action items, all of which, make attending remote meetings more effective and productive.

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David Lee

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