There are too many ghastly remote meetings. Let’s make it stop! In this occasional series I share my six top tips for making your remote meetings not suck.
5. Create A Great “Shared Workspace”
Recently I was speaking at a conference in an underground bunker! It was in a hotel near Heathrow, where they had this theatre/cinema space that looked like it dated back to the Cold War. In front of every seat was this wall of fake walnut, and on the top was an ashtray.
It made it very difficult for anyone to see the speaker, or for the speaker to see the participants.
That made it feel a bit like a remote meeting where nobody has their video cameras on.
When people can’t see each other, it makes conversation tricky. And yet… people leave their video cameras off when they’re talking to colleagues.
Don’t do that! It’s rude. It’s like turning your back on someone when you’re talking to each other.
The thing with remote conversations is that everyone has to play a part in creating the shared workspace. If one person fails to use a headset, and so causes echo on the call, it affects everyone else.
Your colleagues may not realise that. Or they might have been misled by people who told them that in order to look good online, they would have to have perfect lighting and a white wall behind them. You can help by reassuring them.
6. Talk About What You’re Doing
Personally, I’m passionate about making online meetings more engaging. I want to see people all round the world collaborating to solve the big questions that we have to tackle as a species: the ones that are too big to be solved by any one group of people in any one room.
So I’m profoundly frustrated by the huge waste of time and energy I see in so many organisations. Work-related conversations should be purposeful and engaging, not “soul-destroying”. When we have better meetings, everyone benefits.
If you’re leading a remote meeting, I invite you to talk about why you’re applying the ideas above. What difference do you expect them to make?
And, I know I’ve been nervous to speak up when it’s not “my” meeting. Even to email, before the meeting: “I’m not sure I understand my role in this meeting. Could you explain why you’ve invited me, so that I can prepare, please?”
I’m not suggesting you step in and take over, knocking your colleagues aside at every remote meeting you’re in. But can you use one or two of the ideas above “from the floor”?
Because unless we do something, and say what we’re up to, nothing’s going to change. So let’s make better remote meetings a “thing”. Let’s talk about it.