Are Zoom Meetings Really Necessary?
At the time of writing we are in the 3rd week of the UK lockdown from the Covid 19 outbreak. LinkedIn posts are significantly down, but those that are seem to be dominated by Zoom meetings. But I can’t help but ask myself as I see the endless run of photos of people in their pajamas, tracksuits and even suits, are Zoom Meetings really necessary?
The Purpose of Zoom Meetings
I am using Zoom as it’s a name that has suddenly invaded the scene. When before all this happened, admittedly, I barely knew the brand. So like a new face in the club Zoom is making it’s play to be what Hoover is to the Vacuum. There are of course other brands of video conferencing software, but I’m using Zoom as it’s the headline grabber. However, the purpose of the post is a generalization across video conferencing software as a whole and not just Zoom.
What is the point of Video Conferencing Software though? Is there anything to be gained from it that a telephone call, an email or a Whattsapp message cannot achieve? I understand that we are on lockdown, but in my opinion I don’t understand the benefit of the video side.
Do I want to see Big Dave in his Underpants?
Ok. We don’t have an employee called Big Dave, but someone will do. And do they want to see Big Dave in his underpants? I can’t imagine that they would. But most of the people on these zoom meetings now are not dressed up for a meeting. They are dressed up for lounging around. Some still wear suits, which begs the question why? You’ve dressed up in a suit, to video call your work colleagues who are also dressed up in suits whilst all of you sit in your houses? What the fudge?
What will the company gain from a video meeting?
If you have 20 staff you can communicate all of the information that you want to in one go. You say your piece and garner information or even host a debate from the others. You can also visually see the levels of engagement. Are people involved, switched off, contributing, disengaged etc?
But from my own experience I’ve worked in companies that believed in meetings after meetings, those somewhere in the middle and those that tried to avoid meetings in all but the most important cases.
A Good Meeting
Any good meeting has a purpose and it delivers two things for those involved; information and motivation. The best meetings are no longer than 20 minutes. And at the end of a good meeting people leave feeling better than when they arrived. They have learned something useful and feel the better for it.
The Typical Meeting
Most meetings in my experience consist of the chair of the meeting doing most of the talking. As the time goes on those who were initially making an effort to look engaged have given up trying. The chair of the meeting has gone into Martin Luther King speech mode. And half the room is experiencing pins and needles in both their feet and their brains. Everyone simply cannot wait for this sh** show to be over.
Those Who Love a Meeting
In my experience the only people who love meetings are those either chairing them and love the sound of their own voice or those Directors who need to appear busy as they know if they don’t the Chief Executive will work out that their job simply isn’t needed.
The Benefit for an Employee
As a typical Zoom meeting consists of, for the sake of argument 1 chair and 10 attendees, then surely the ratio of meeting importance should be toward the 10 to 1 majority, right?
The problem with most meetings though is that the benefit is to the chair and not the attendees. From my own experience the best form of information and motivation, the purpose of a good meeting, is one on one.
In the office we do 1 meeting per day, in the morning, and it lasts between 5 – 15 minutes typically. A training session lasts 20 minutes maximum. This is because the human brain will only retain 20% of the information you give it after 20 minutes of intense information gathering.
Common Sense Meetings
I understand a zoom meeting if you have 20+ staff and key information, a 2 way debate or speed of information exchange is paramount. But holding zoom meetings twice a day or for 20+ minutes or for 1 on 1 questioning is absolutely pointless for a video conference. A quick call or a whattsapp is much better. But you may ask why?
I am an extrovert by nature. Public speaking or meeting new people doesn’t phase me. But sat in a room or on a video call with 20 people when I have an opinion on something that detracts from the yes man policy makes me think twice about saying it.
Yes Man/Woman Policy
The majority of meetings I have been in have consisted of the attendees all miraculously agreeing with the chair who is typically a Director or Manager. This is because psychologically it is uncomfortable or difficult to detract from the crowd in those instances. So anyone with a detracting point that may be useful and valid is less inclined to voice it.
The truth is that most managers or directors prefer yes men and yes women in their meetings. But the reality is that for companies to gain information and motivation (the purpose of a good meeting) then two way debates are the best use of a meeting. Why bother coming together on a video or face to face meeting if the information is only going one way. The people I like in meetings are those that constructively disagree with my way of thinking. They have valid points, can articulate them and their motives are for the companies best outcome and not their own.
When a Zoom Meeting Should Be Used
If your company culture is critical argument with the best outcome of the business, without doubt the main priority for everyone in attendance, then a video meeting makes sense. Secondly, if you have quick fire key information that needs to be delivered to everyone and it’d benefit people emotionally to see your face then do a video meeting. Thirdly if you want to deliver team based training and expect questions back from different people where the answers would be beneficial for the others to know there and then, do a video meeting.
When a Zoom Meeting is just not necessary
If you mindlessly hold a meeting every morning with the same format to replicate a boring office meeting to maintain consistency, then it’s pointless. Ask yourself, if your meetings are sh** in the office, why would doing it over video conferencing make any difference? If you are holding meetings to keep moral up within your team, trust me a 1 on 1 call will go much further. A 1 on 1 call means a lot more to people as it is personal. If you want a critical opinion from each person and would like more honesty, again, a 1 on 1 telephone call is much better. In general any type of continuity meeting just to make people feel it’s business as usual will be seen right through as a crock of sh** by anyone with half a brain. And only those with half a brain would benefit from it if it was any good anyway. So again, pointless.
Finally if your Zoom meetings are just to make you look contemporary, tech focused, engaged and sociable to benefit your companies social media, your current staff will suss-it-out.
Ok. Last point. The next time you see a photo on LinkedIn of someone conducting a zoom meeting, look at the expressions of the attendees. Their faces will either look staged (thumbs up, silly faces etc) or look absolutely mind numbingly bored sh**less. Point and case.
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External Links: https://www.fastcompany.com/3025791/this-hilarious-video-shows-why-conference-calls-are-so-so-terrible
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