Making virtual meetings meaningful | Sunday Observer

Making virtual meetings meaningful

15 November, 2020

The business world is full of meetings and interactions under normal circumstances but now with Covid-19, it’s mainly virtual meetings to such an extent where sometimes you ask the question do I have enough time to act – how can you act effectively when the environment is closed or not as open as it used to be. Virtual meetings have become a fashion for some and the need and effectiveness are hardly measured?

Covid or otherwise, purposeless meetings can be a huge waste of time.In the business world today, there are too many and they are frequently not objectively managed. You join from one meeting to another like rocket; internal and external meetings. Is there a real purpose or goal and in short no compelling reason to have so many big meetings involving so many people? It’s a big drag on everyone and on the business. 

Pointless virtual meetings have become the scourge of given office life, depriving companies of valuable working time and money. They are the knee-jerk response to any challenge we face at work; be it a simple people issue or an administration lapse which can be sorted over the phone or one-on -one.

This doctrine results in an overwhelming number of meetings, which usually are so poorly administered and they don’t even achieve whatever they’re meant to, resulting in yet more meetings.

Common mistakes made by us include; inviting people who don’t really need to attend, not having attendees prepare for the meeting, not enforcing a strict timetable/agenda for the meeting, not having clarity around the purpose of the meeting, letting the conversation veer off topic or allowing the discussion to become disorganized, not ensuring that all views are voiced, heard and considered.

Meetings can either be very successful making those involved feel part of a team or they can be disastrous, leaving everyone present feeling confused and frustrated.

Right tone

Did you know that setting the tone is more important than the words you say in a virtual meeting? To make the most of your meeting it is important to put some thought into what the meeting is supposed to accomplish, who should attend, what should be discussed, how to stay engaged, where the best place to have it is, and when would be the most convenient date and time- and what technology platform to use.

Having decided on the basics, equally important is how the meeting is chaired. If you are the chair, ensure that you get online early. Greet everyone warmly and ensure that everyone is comfortable and able to pay attention without distractions.

Use your opening remarks to set the tone for the meeting, ensure everyone is in attendance, establish the purpose and then review the agenda. Give a short overview of each topic and what you need to achieve at the end of the meeting. During the meeting, it is important to pay attention to the structure of items based on priority. For example, a step by step approach to problem solving encourages people to develop and evaluate alternative solutions. Without this, the meeting can dissolve into a free for all with the strongest voice dominating; or no ideas being generated; or the item being put on hold until the next meeting. Mind you; running a virtual meeting demands more skills than running the face to face meeting. It’s an art that you need to develop thru practice. 


Meetings – whether virtual or otherwise, are meant for making decisions and finding solutions, not for ranting, griping or dwelling unnecessarily on problems. Always make sure, every agenda item ends with a decision and clear to-dos including responsible people and dead-lines.

Any verbal exchange can easily go from good to great if you know how to set the overall tone from the start. The most important aspect of effective verbal communication during a meeting is to respect the other people’s time. State this at the very beginning of the meeting to set the tone that you want to get down to business and not waste their precious time. Ensure that you connect with as many people as possible so the people will stay on alert. 

Haven’t you been in virtual meetings where lots of decisions are made but nothing gets done and nobody is held accountable? Unless you finish the meeting with commitments about “who will do what by when,” you’ve just built 90% of a bridge. Take a stock of all the regular virtual meetings you have, do a look back and decide which ones are really necessary, which ones add value vs wasting time. 

We all have accountabilities though its work from home – so be more committed than ever before and do justice for the role you play for the business.