Question from a reader: why are on-line meetings so hard?

Interesting question based on my post and Linkedin Article about meetings (roughly 1-2 weeks ago). Why do some on-line meetings fail so badly?

  1. First off you have two problems with on-line meetings. The first is simply put recording the meeting. Making sure with on-line meetings that not only are people listening but also that their thoughts are captured.
  2. The second issue is multi-tasking. Sometimes people don’t attend meetings in person because they have other work to do. Therefore even though they are listening to the on-line meeting they are not really participating.

On-line meetings can be very effective tools. You have to balance the attendees in the room (drown out) versus those on the phone. If you are attending a meeting in person the first rule is don’t be a dancing bear. Worse don’t be a preforming bear with colored pens. Seizing control of an in person meeting where there are people on the phone by wandering to the whiteboard and grabbing a marker isn’t cool unless at the same time you have a connected whiteboard.

The other thing as an on-line meeting organization is you have to approach the meeting differently. On-line meetings require three critical things for success

  1. You have to take notes
  2. You have to send and keep to an agenda
  3. No matter what you have to measure and evaluate the people coming to the meeting to resolve the issues of communication patterns and anti-pattern

Some anti-patterns you actually want on the phone. They are unable to wreak their havoc remotely. Or you just mute their lines. Either way it doesn’t in the end matter if you aren’t prepared.

In the end on-line meetings are a balancing act that requires attention, process and ultimately planning. Like any other meeting they can be highly effective or an utter waste of time.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!