7 Common Virtual Meeting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Virtual meetings are the new normal, but they can be challenging. Avoid common mistakes such as technical issues and lack of engagement with these tips.

Reshu Rathi
February 22, 2023
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In this remote-first world, virtual and hybrid meetings are a powerful force that allows people to connect and work together. From connecting with internal team members to external clients, these meetings let businesses accomplish their goals in the most effective way possible. In fact, virtual meetings are, quite literally, what gets the business running in the modern world. No matter which sector you're in, you must be doing them.

Though conducting a virtual meeting looks like a relatively simple task. That doesn't mean it's easy. As with any meeting, you need to plan to get the most out of it.  You need to continuously analyze the effectiveness of your meetings to make them more productive and get good results from them. Also, you need to avoid common virtual meeting mistakes.

If you simply start running virtual meetings, you're unlikely to get good results from your efforts. This doesn't mean that virtual meetings don't work, or these remote conversations aren't just as effective as traditional face-to-face meetings - it just means that you're doing it wrong.

The following are some of the most common mistakes you might be making while conducting virtual meetings. By understanding what not to do in these meetings, you can ensure your virtual meetings are successful.

1. Not Running a Tech Check in Advance

We all know it takes a lot to run good virtual meetings. After all, lots of things can go wrong with them. But did you know most of these problems start with technical difficulty?

People quickly lose interest when screens freeze, audio isn’t clear, videos don’t play, or the presenter can’t figure out how to share the screen of their PowerPoint presentation.

What to do: Before you run a virtual meeting, you need to master the technology you use — wondering how to do that? Well, ask a participant to join shortly before the meeting and run a quick tech check beforehand with him. This way, you can ensure everything is working correctly.

2. Not Pausing in Between and Highlighting the Main Points

It is no secret that 'pauses' can make or break a conversation. But when it comes to virtual meetings, people forget this rule. Don't make this mistake - pauses are necessary to process information, no matter whether it's an in-person meeting or a virtual conversation. It gives your participants a chance to collect their thoughts and reflect on what's being discussed.

Another mistake that most people make when conducting these meetings is not highlighting the main points. Most of the time, things tend to flash by during these virtual sessions, so highlighting the main points or words will give people a chance to remember the crucial topics and points discussed in these sessions.

What to do: Use smart technology tools that let you highlight the main points or words in these conversations so that the main points don't get lost in lengthy discussions. And people can revisit them whenever they want to.

3. Not Planning These Meetings Properly

Conducting virtual meetings is easy; running them successfully isn't. Charting a less choppy course requires careful planning; virtual meetings can fail if proper planning doesn't occur. So, if you're failing to plan, you're planning to fail.

Though virtual meetings need more planning than traditional face-to-face meetings, most people make the mistake of handling them informally and not planning them properly. Not a good idea. Virtual meetings need more orchestration than in-person meetings. Attendees will get frustrated and lost in an aimless meeting.

What to do: Schedule these meetings in advance, and to ensure they run effectively, share the agenda before the meeting. This way, you can ensure that the conversation stays on track. Also, you can give the attendees an option to make any additions to the agenda based on their needs. And during the meeting, refer to the agenda and stick to it. So that a half-hour meeting doesn’t get stretched to an hour and you can end the meeting properly, so every participant knows what is expected of them afterward.

4. Not Closing These Meetings Properly

One of the biggest mistakes most people make while conducting a virtual meeting is not ending it properly. They just wrap up the discussion without summarizing it, but that’s not how you should finish them. Why? Because this way, most attendees will forget what’s discussed in them. It is essential to summarize what’s discussed in the meeting so that everyone remembers what’s discussed and leaves feeling as if the time was well spent.

What to do: At the end of each virtual meeting, summarize what’s being discussed. A good summary should include any action points that have come out of the discussion. And what needs to be done by who in response to those conclusions.

Remember, how you end your virtual meetings is as important as how you start them - so don’t forget to summarize them.

5. Not Having a Single Repository for All These Meetings

Online meetings are becoming more important than ever for businesses as they are letting them connect with their customers, team members, and candidates. Still, most of this conversation data is going in a vacuum as this meeting data is scattered all over the place and is difficult to track. Don’t just conduct meetings; collect them in one place by having a centralized place where people can easily find and get value from these meetings.

What to do: Upload all your meetings in one place so you can manage and find all these conversations in a go and get the insights you need from these recordings. Use a tool that lets you index these recordings - to quickly and easily sort and better use this untapped data. For example, a tool that enables you to index your meeting recordings into collections based on use case or context, e.g., exit interviews, product demos, board meetings, sales calls, etc.

6. Not Managing Background Noise in Virtual Meetings

When conducting traditional face-to-face meetings, we ensure that there is no distraction, so attention stays on the agenda and objectives all the time. But when it comes to virtual meetings, we allow extra noises. Not a good idea. To run successful virtual meetings, we need a distraction-free environment. Attendees will lose focus if the background is filled with distracting noises.

What to do: Tell your attendees before you start that you’ll mute yourself when you’re not speaking, so you don’t interfere with what they say. And they can do the same. Also, turn off your reminders and alerts on all the devices when conducting virtual meetings and tell the attendees to do the same.

7. Not Preparing for Virtual Meetings

The biggest mistake most people make while conducting virtual meetings is not preparing for them. Do some extra preparation. Just connecting over a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Teams and expecting meetings to run smoothly the way they would like an in-person meeting is a recipe for disaster. Instead, prepare for them - share the information and documents you want to cover a day or two in advance.

Also, decide what you want to cover and sketch out a through-line that connects these items or messages to avoid muddling. Also, this way, you can ensure your meeting doesn't devolve into a random grab bag of discussion. And, yes, don't forget to estimate how much time each item will take so that you can end your meeting on time.

What to do: Share the documents and if you need feedback on the material, be sure to set a deadline for review. So, in the meeting, you can use the time to answer their questions and make decisions rather than brief people about the documents.

Wrapping Up

Very few people are conducting virtual meetings effectively - we all are making some of these common virtual meeting mistakes. If you are making any of these mistakes at present, it's high time you correct them. And, even if you are not - remember mistakes are also learning experiences, especially those made by others.

So, learn from these common mistakes, which most people make with virtual meetings, and avoid them.


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Author Bio

Reshu Rathi
Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She specializes in content marketing, lead generation, and engagement strategy. Her byline can be found all over the web

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