Tech Tips With Margaret: 9 Hints to Make Your Zoom Meetings More Productive and Less Draining

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Wherever you turn, someone wants to have a Zoom meeting.

They happen with the best of intentions, to update everyone on company goals or to refine the projected revenue estimates for next year’s budget.

So what’s so wrong about having lots of meetings?

It’s a time killer.

Meeting scientist Joseph Allen, Ph.D., says senior managers spent 75 percent of their pre-pandemic workday preparing for, organizing, and attending meetings.   

Yet, more than half of all such meetings, Zoom or otherwise, are rated as poor.

Download Zoom’s 11 point checklist for more productive Zoom meetings here.

So how can things be made better?

Here are helpful tips.

Pre-meeting prep

First, ask, ‘Is this meeting necessary?’ Here’s a checklist to see if it is.

  1. Does my meeting have a clear purpose/goal?
  2. Are collaboration and open discussion essential to achieving my goals?
  3. Do I need to discuss complex or sensitive information?

If you answered yes, a meeting’s going to be your best option. If not, use email, instant message, or a quick phone call instead.

If you determine your meeting is necessary, consider trimming your attendee list

Does everyone invited to the meeting really need to be there? If it’s a meeting requiring collaboration, try sticking to five to seven people—after that you have lots of people on a call but only a few contributing.

Next, create and circulate an agenda for the meeting. Prepare your agenda ahead of time and send it out early to attendees so they can become familiar with the topic and think about it ahead of time.

As you create an agenda for your meeting, think about how long you want the meeting to last. Try to keep meetings to less than 45 minutes. Don’t schedule meetings back-to-back. If your meeting must go longer than an hour, give people short breaks to recharge.

Finally, before the scheduled start time, get in the right mindset.

When your meeting reminder pops up, stop your current task and prepare your mind to focus on the meeting ahead. Drink a glass of water, meditate, listen to music, or walk around — whatever gives you energy and allows you to participate without distraction.

In-meeting tips

You’re prepared, the right people are on the screen, and everyone agreed on the agenda. Here are six things to keep in mind to make sure your meeting is productive

First, start with small talk. Making a personal connection with meeting participants usually results in a more effective meeting.

As the meeting progresses, remember to be inclusive, an active facilitator and an engaged attendee. Encourage an active conversation where everyone has a chance to speak. Call people by name. Switch views frequently to keep attendees’ attention.

Avoid multitasking or tab surfing. Instead, use Zoom meeting reactions to show you’re listening to presenters. Share comments in the in-meeting chat to avoid interrupting.

Be mindful of who’s talking and who’s being talked over, and strive to engage all voices equally. Women and people of color tend to experience unconscious bias in the workplace, and virtual meetings can magnify these inequities.

As with most meetings, stick to the agenda. Table unrelated discussion and follow up offline.

Click here to download your free copy of “Zoom Mindful Meeting Tips”

Post- meeting follow-up

You did it! The meeting ended on time, everyone participated, and several new ideas were discussed that no one had thought prior to the meeting.

Here are three post-session actions you can take the meeting’s effectiveness lives on beyond the meeting.

First, leverage your notes and send meeting highlights and action items to keep participants and stakeholders in the loop. That way, everyone stays informed without spending their entire day in meetings. 

Ask for feedback and contributions for those not comfortable speaking up at meetings, or who weren’t there.

Finally, look at your future meetings. Evaluate upcoming meetings to make sure those meetings are still serving their intended purpose, the right people are invted and an agenda has created and shared.

If any of these pieces are not in place, make future meetings shorter, less frequent, invite fewer people or simply cancel them altogether.

Help turn unproductive or unnecessary meetings into a powerful tool for leaders and team members alike.

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With over 30 years in business, Haverford Systems Inc. is the Delaware Valley’s most experienced audiovisual design and integration company. 

Our teams work with trusted and well-known industry brands to create state-of-the-art systems that help in-office and remote teams collaborate and get more done.

To speak with Margaret or schedule time to speak with her about your company’s next audiovisual project click here.

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