Using video to stop people multitasking during virtual meetings
I was talking to a senior manager recently who told me that one of the advantages of using video tools like Skype or the video application on WebEx in his virtual meetings, was that he could check that people were paying attention and not multitasking.
Whilst that is, of course, true, it could just be masking the fact that the calls were not very good or relevant to the individual or that they had little opportunity for participation.
The first obligation to prevent multitasking lies on the person who is running the call, if they make the content relevant, compelling and participative, then people won’t want to multitask.
If people are multitasking on your calls first ask yourself if they are right – is Facebook or the latest e-mail or text actually more interesting and relevant than your meeting? If it is then you can’t really blame people for multitasking – much as we would like to.
The Internet is a fierce competitor for attention, there is usually something more interesting happening online. In your meeting, people who work from home or virtual teams may be a tougher group to engage for extended periods. The challenge that they represent could provide a good stimulus to improving the quality of your meetings.
There will, of course, always be certain individuals who are easily distracted. Once you have done what you can to make your calls engaging, then is the time to call out others who are multitasking. It may be that they don’t need to be at your meeting, but if they do, then they really need to be present throughout?
People may claim that they can multitask successfully, but there is no evidence that anyone can do so, you don’t do your best work by not concentrating on it.
If it’s important it needs our full attention, it is not important then we shouldn’t be having a meeting to discuss it.
We will be looking at how to deal with multitaskers – and other problem participants in our Better Meetings Campaign which launches next month. Keep an eye on our blog, or sign up for our newsletter for more details.
(You can find out more about our training for leading virtual teams: here