Why people hate virtual meetings

Virtual meetings are now a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean we will always enjoy them very much. 

We are not attempting to tell you how you should feel about them, but let’s look at five reasons people hate virtual meetings.

  • It’s actually hard to remember anything that’s said or happens
  • Attention spans are getting shorter
  • You don’t get a lot of the subtle social cues that indicate boredom, anger or support
  • Misunderstandings easily develop
  • The social bonds that occur naturally are hard to create in the first place and very fragile

The above reasons are subjective but also legitimate complaints. 

Here are some ideas to create compelling, memorable virtual experiences to to help brands connect on a human level in the digital sphere. 

1. Reinforce Key Points

Use the features of the platform to help reinforce key points. Use the “record” button, save white boards and chat logs, and document what you can and share it with participants or post it on a shared drive or other site where everyone can refer to it as needed.

2. Keep it short

Did you know that the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds?  Meanwhile, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of human beings has decreased to 8 seconds. Shocking, right? 

Attention spans are based on two factors: physical barriers (how long can someone visually and auditorially focus without bursting a blood vessel) and mental barriers (are they interested enough in what’s going on to make the effort). Keep meetings short, focused and make sure people understand what is expected of them.

3. Don’t lose the body language 

Presenting online, even with video, makes it hard to pick up shrugs, glazed eyes and confused faces. Ironically, when we present virtually we tend to barrel through in an effort to get done as quickly as possible. Build in opportunities to check in with your participants such as chat, direct questions and calling for comments.

4. Pay attention 

You need to be able to listen carefully to detect things like tone of voice or people speaking at cross purposes. That’s hard to do when you’re worried about running the technology or wishing you were someplace else. Try having someone else run the meeting so you’re free to really listen, question and ensure understanding between all attendees.

5. Make people connect

Don’t ignore social niceties in the interest of time (at least not every time). Help people get to know each other (video, showing pictures of attendees, focusing each meeting on a different person or group) intentionally. Don’t expect it to happen of its own accord. Let people interact to build relationships and a sense of community.  

Lastly, bring in the fun elements to demonstrate that your meeting isn’t a bore-fest.

So while we might not be fond of virtual meetings, at least let’s hope we can move them a little lower on the misery index with the above tips.