Which Modes of Meeting Increase Your Productivity?

We now have more choices than ever before for how we meet with people. We can meet in-person, by phone, or use video over Zoom or Skype. Too much of any one mode is detrimental. Leaders need to consider their ideal personal modes of meeting mix to remain productive.

Video conferencing is a fantastic tool for communicating. I regularly lead training workshops, hold meetings, and speak with clients all from my home.

But you can have too much of a good thing! Zoom fatigue is a real. It’s the burnout, worry, and stress associated with overuse of visual Internet meetings.

It comes from paying attention to the 2-dimensional video images of the other person(s) looking for non-verbal clues in their communication. We have to focus on the camera to make “eye contact” yet watch their images. And we are distracted by our own.

If you press ahead with video conference after video conference you will loose energy and not be at your best.

To be productive, leaders need to consider their ideal personal modes of meeting mix. Click To Tweet

4 Modes of Meeting

How you meet, is what I call a mode of meeting. Each mode has its advantages and disadvantages. We tend to favor one mode and overuse it to our detriment. Here are the 4 main modes of meeting:

  1. In person. Meeting face-to-face is often considered the ideal meeting. Being physically with the other person makes it feels more relational. This mode also has its limits. Even as an extrovert, all-day meetings wear me out by early afternoon. Traveling to and from a meeting takes time. As does the extended socializing that comes with in-person meetings. Cutting that small talk short may communicate the wrong message in-person, while the same amount of small talk on a phone call might be perfectly acceptable.
  2. Video conference. Visual and audio connections are the new big thing. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype are popular services. I often choose this mode of meeting with groups. It allows for interactions in breakout rooms that are easier to facilitate and more interactive than meeting in-person. No travel is needed. These days, most of us are relying on this mode too much and wearing people out by having so many video conference meetings when we should have sent an email with the information or simply phoned.
  3. Telephone. This is audio only, but don’t dismiss this old standby! Telephone has some serious advantages. Voice-to-voice communication can produce a focus to the conversation that we don’t experience in the other modes. In my industry, we’ve seen coaching clients, as well as coaches, gain focus by using voice only. We hear more when we’re not relying on our eyes. Plus, you can stand, walk, and move during a telephone call.
  4. Sitting, Standing, or Walking. Use one of the three modes above but in a different body position and you will change your conversational energy. I do in-person meetings and phone calls while walking and see creativity go up. For sure, sitting all day staring at a screen lowers our creativity and problem solving abilities.
Sick of Zoom meetings? The key to keeping your energy up is to find your ideal modes of meeting mix. Click To Tweet

Your Ideal Modes of Meeting Mix

Recently, I led a four-and-a-half-hour coaching workshop, finished, grabbed a quick lunch and jumped back on Zoom for another 2-hour meeting.

I regretted using Zoom immediately. I was tired from actively paying attention to the small images of participants during the workshop, trying to look at the camera, smiling, etc. I wasn’t my best for the 2nd Zoom meeting.

The next day, I changed things up. After the coaching workshop using Zoom, I met with a person by telephone. I texted him ahead of time and said, “I’m Zoom’d out for the day. Can we talk by phone, while walking?” He loved the idea. We both walked and talked on the phone. The contrast in my energy from the day before was remarkable.

The key to keeping your energy, and your engagement, up is to find your ideal modes of meeting mix.

  • Try out the modes of meeting that you’re not using. If you haven’t used video conference because you’re a “face-to-face” person, give Zoom a try. Or if you’ve hung up on telephoning, give it another go.
  • Change up modes of meeting throughout the day. Follow a Zoom meeting with a phone call or an in-person meeting.
  • Add interactivity and breaks to your meetings. I lead multi-hour Zoom workshops, while keeping participants engaged. Do this by not lecturing for more than 15 minutes at a time, liberally use breakout rooms for discussions and practice, use the chat for response and input, ask questions for reflection, and allow the group to discuss. Schedule frequent breaks and stick to them. Our schedule is a 10-minute or 20-minute break every 55 minutes. We encourage everyone to stand up and move away from their computers during the break.
  • Change your body position. Stand up during your Zoom meeting instead of sitting. Walk while talking in-person or on the phone.
  • Follow your daily energy to find the order of your ideal mix. I naturally have more creative energy in the morning, so I’m happy with video conferences then. In the afternoon, I schedule more conversational meetings rather than creative or decision-making meetings. I want to stand or walk in the afternoons. In the morning, sitting is fine.
  • Pay attention to the mode of meeting as you schedule meetings. If you see you’re using one mode for a few hours, follow it with a different mode. If it must be the same mode, put a gap between the meetings and physically move.

Use different modes of meeting and different body positions for those meetings to suit the occasion and your own preference. Once you find your ideal modes of meeting mix, you’ll see your productivity and energy increase.

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    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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