How to get your Team to Stay Focussed in Virtual Meetings
If you bother to organise a meeting, ideally you want people to be paying attention.
But as all our meetings have become virtual, if you scan the ‘room’, there’ll almost always be someone whose eyeballs are flicking from side-to-side, betraying the fact that they’ve chosen a far more interesting article on cat NFTs than your update on monthly product usage statistics.
We think there’s several key takeaways for managers in how we organize our meetings so our teams get the most out of them.
If you see people not paying attention, it’s probably because:
They have too much work: in 39% of responses, people mentioned that they multi-task in meetings to catch up on their other work. If you find people prioritizing their work over your meeting, you perhaps need to have a conversation about their workload or question whether attending the meeting is the best use of their time.
It’s not relevant enough: in 17% of responses during the study, people mentioned that they multi-task in meetings they find irrelevant or have a lack of interest in. So if you find people consistently tuning out, it may be worth asking whether they find your meeting useful in the first place.
It’s a large meeting: the study found that as more and more participants were added to a meeting, the more likely people were to multi-task. Now, this may be because participants could genuinely get value out of the parts of the meeting that were relevant to them, and tune out for the rest. But we bet that there are many in there who would have got more value from not attending the meeting at all.
It’s a recurring meeting: the study found significantly higher rates of multi-tasking in recurring and scheduled meetings rather than ad-hoc meetings. Again, this likely reflects the heightened relevance of ad hoc meetings, rather than recurring ones. If you see people switching off in your recurring meetings, again consider whether the meeting is needed at all or whether you should try shaking up the format.
It’s in the morning: approximately 30% of those studied were emailing during virtual meetings. Generally email actions peak in the morning. If you want your team to be less distracted by email, then it follows that you should arrange meetings in the afternoon. (We appreciate that different teams have different operating cadences and this won’t be relevant for everyone).