Beat The Zoom Meeting Blues

computer screen showing a zoom meeting

By now you might be suffering from zoom meeting blues. Ready to call it quits on zoom meetings? You’re not alone.

How One Worker Beat His Company Zoom Meeting

I watched a fascinating video where a young man employed in a tech company decided to automate his participation video conference team meetings. He explains how for one week he never participated live but only used prerecorded clips of himself to fool his colleagues (and boss) into thinking he was in the meeting. He concluded that his approach didn’t save time and he was nervous as he waited to see if his automated responses were convincing.

Why He Succeeded In Disappearing From The Zoom Meeting

He was successful, in large part, because there were several people in the meetings and the expectation of his involvement was minimal. His most impressive feats were automating his pitch of a proposal to his boss, his apology to his teammates at the end of the week, and his prerecorded response to their surprise.

Further, he noted that he was successful, in large part, because there were several people in the meetings and the expectation of his involvement was minimal. His most impressive feats were automating his pitch of a proposal to his boss, his apology to his teammates at the end of the week, and his prerecorded response to their surprise. What fascinated me was how no one picked up on his technical glitches. In order to fill time, he looped one five-minute video backward and forward. This meant that repeatedly he was “unsipping” his coffee. Then there was the accidental inclusion of a black frame that popped up from time to time. In both cases, his deception went unnoticed.

What does this mean for your zoom meeting?  

First, recognize that if one person was able to do this and post about his success, others will build on his techniques to further automate virtual participation in virtual meetings. Second, virtual participation is already happening in numerous low-tech ways. “Participants” dial in but don’t turn on video or keep themselves muted throughout the meeting. They may be texting just out of sight of the camera or checking e-mail on another portion of their large monitors.  

Questions To Ask About Holding A Zoom Meeting

Does this team member need to be included in this meeting? How should each team member prepare before the meeting so that it is maximally productive? Is there a purpose to the meeting? What do you plan to accomplish? How will you know if it is a success?  

If you can’t answer these questions before the meeting, then you’re not ready to proceed. You are in danger of having a meeting to plan another meeting.  One team told me they hadn’t met for months, virtually or in-person, during much of last year. Not surprisingly, their business and team cohesion was suffering.

When teams maintain regularly scheduled, interactive check-in calls

Their business grows and team cohesion remains strong. Team members need to interact regularly. I’d even encourage you to “strategically waste time together” – something I learned from an early mentor. Time invested in sharing about personal interests and lives outside of work can be healthy. You’re already up against some significant challenges with virtual meetings. Participants are “always on.”

Normally, Beth can scratch her nose, knowing that everyone is looking at Chad who is presenting from the other end of the conference room. On Zoom, Beth is always visible to everyone on the call. This is part of why she chooses to not share her video. Participants can’t have side conversations that build comradery and relieve tension. They can’t lean over and whisper, “I hope your kids made it to school today despite the weather.”

There is no whispering on Zoom – instead, team members are often texting behind the scenes to each other. Make sure your meetings are consistently scheduled, properly attended, and interactive. If most of your meetings involve everyone listening to a talking head, then don’t be surprised to discover a “participant” is a prerecorded image of himself. Sadly, to a poorly planned and executed meeting, virtual or actual attendance may make no difference!  

About Julian Consulting

Dr. Stephen Julian is President of Julian Consulting, a firm specializing in team health, effective communication, and leadership development. He has worked with leaders and their teams for nearly 30 years in a variety of settings – including Africa, South and Central America.

https://www.julianconsulting.org

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