During the pandemic, virtual meetings became the norm. Zoom became a household name. And now that things are improving, companies are looking at workplace arrangements in general and assessing how to bring people back to work and bring them together, what changes to make and how to do it safely.
As part of this effort, it’s also a good time to take a look at your meeting strategy and reassess how you’d like to conduct your meetings.
Many companies have found online meetings to be more cost effective and more efficient in terms of time management. People can talk with others who are hundreds of miles away without ever leaving their desk.
For these reasons, some companies have decided to incorporate virtual meetings into their business operations or move to a more hybrid arrangement that combines online meetings and in person meetings, depending on the particular need and situation.
Limitations of virtual meetings
But companies need to consider the drawbacks of virtual meetings and work to address them.
For example, when you are having a Zoom meeting with someone, you generally just see their head. And while you can see a person’s facial expressions during an online meeting, there is little that you can see below the neck. This becomes an issue when you consider how important body language is in conveying impressions to other people and in making connections with them.
In fact, research is showing that we often give greater weight to non-verbal over verbal cues. And this is especially true when we see a disconnect between the two, but we often do this without noticing it.
So it is important to realize the limits of online meetings. They require a new awareness and new skills among those who participate in them.
For example, people need to be more aware how much of a role our senses play in communication. They need to work a little harder to make the kinds of connections that may come more easily in person.
How to make connections
Some ways of forming these connections include making eye contact and addressing people by name, allowing time for small talk, and just slowing things down in general.
You also need to be more patient in these meetings, taking the time to listen to the other person and making a conscious effort not to interrupt. One of the big problems with virtual meetings is that people are often talking over each other.
Showing that you care about the other person is another way to make connections. For example, you can ask them how their family is, what kinds of activities they’ve been doing, or how things have been going for them in general. In other words, taking an interest in them.