Just because these professional discussions now occur in the online realm does not mean that they are free from the kinds of mistakes that people often make during face-to-face meetings. What are these mistakes, anyway? In this article, we will discuss ten of the most common boo-boos that both employees and employers alike tend to overlook.
- Always Starting Way Later Than Originally Planned
Not only will the person leading the meeting have to repeat what has just been said for those who come in late, but everybody will have less time to discuss the important items on the agenda, too.
- Not Keeping an Eye on the More Dominant Voices
These people may mean well when it comes to providing lots of suggestions for whatever is being discussed, but they could actually be scaring some of your shyer participants from speaking up, for fear of only being redundant or not having ideas that are anywhere near as good.
- Forgetting to Prepare an Agenda Before the Meeting Starts
Nothing is worse than agreeing to attend a meeting only to find out that nobody has the slightest clue what you are all supposed to talk about. Here is a tip for you: if you can’t really think of anything important to discuss, then you probably do not need to hold a meeting at all in the first place.
- Not Creating an Agenda That Has Specific Goals or Topics
A haphazard agenda is just as bad as having no agenda at all. Be as ruthless as you can be with your list of topics to discuss. If you need to brainstorm ways to raise more money, for example, do not just put “brainstorming session” down on your agenda. Jot down a few possible ideas that you already have, and try to tackle the problem with concrete questions.
- Veering Away from the Agenda Far Too Often
Whether you are the person holding the meeting or just one of the many participants, there is no harm in gently steering everybody back to the main topics at hand. If they really cannot help themselves, suggest that they continue the discussion after the meeting, perhaps in person or in an e-mail chain instead.
- Always Going Over the Allotted Time for the Discussion
If there really are too many good ideas that you are afraid that you will miss, you can ask everybody to hold on to them until they get back to their desks and e-mail it to everybody else who was in the meeting. While everything is still in e-mail form, you can browse through everything and filter out the truly great ones from the more mediocre ones. Then, you can set another meeting to discuss the ones that made the cut.
- Forgetting to Assign Someone to Handle the Minutes of the Meeting
While this has become much easier to do thanks to the use of tools like BlueJeans for corporate video conferencing, which can offer recordings of video conferences, it will still be easier to reference written minutes instead of having to replay a certain section of the meeting over and over just for one part everybody needed to refresh themselves on.
- Forgetting to Give a Brief Summary of the Entire Meeting
If you don’t do this, then you might end up leaving a small misunderstanding unresolved that could cause problems down the round. Worse, you might end up in more meetings just to solve the issue, and that’s something nobody wants to have to go through.
- Not Letting the More Quiet Participants Have Their Say
There are probably a few of those shy wallflowers in the meeting that everybody wishes would speak up at least once in a while. If you don’t call on these people, then you will find you’re your meetings will continue to follow the same pattern of who speaks up and in what order, according to an article by Paul Axtell on Fast Company.
- Allowing Certain Participants to Have Side Conversations
Instead of scolding people when you catch them having their own private chat during your discussion, tell everybody at the start of the meeting that they should write a note of what they want to tell somebody else and to address it at the end of the meeting, based on a tip by Michael Hyatt.
These are but a few of the ways in which online meetings can become a mess instead of a way to get everybody on the same page. Make sure to avoid making any of these mistakes when you join or hold your next business meeting, and you will be able to garner the respect of your colleagues for keeping them engaged and making them feel more productive than they probably ever will in most other meetings.