The Top 5 Reasons Online Meetings are Killing your Productivity

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As your business interactions move from in-person to online, your ability to project a professional presence, hold attention and have productive conversations is quickly becoming the key to your continued success.

As a communication coach and storyteller, I’m acutely aware of how many of my corporate clients are suffering overwhelm. It’s clear, trying to run your business meetings online in the same way as you did in a room, will result in a massive decrease in connection, engagement and productivity.  

So, what do you need to know about on-screen meetings that’s changed the playing field?

Research tells us that, probably compounded by the low emotional engagement, people have around a 3-minute online attention span before you lose them

Here are some fundamental truths about this new space that I’ve learnt in 20 years as professional actress and communication coach:


  1. The power of first visual impressions

You don’t have the opportunity to enter the room, shake hands and greet individuals to build rapport- on a computer screen its only your visual image that sets the initial impression.

Knowing how to set up your visual frame and instantly project warmth and confidence are essential. This needs to cover the practicalities of such things as eye-lines, lighting and backgrounds as well as the correct use of body language and gesture.

Learning how to get this right is a game-changer, particularly if you work with clients or are trying to win new business.


  1. On screen, emotional engagement is low

The non-verbal, social cues that normally can make up to 80% of how you engage and land a clear message in-person, are dramatically reduced on a small screen.

You need to work much harder to get people to buy-in to your message and care about the relationship you are trying to build with them.

Learning how to build rapport and connect fast is vital to your ability to wake up high-engagement in others. Without it, your ability to persuade or convince anyone of your point of view is severely limited.


  1. The 3-minute attention window

Research tells us that, probably compounded by the low emotional engagement, people have around a 3-minute online attention span before you lose them.

You have to be skillful in sharing a succinct and compelling message if you want to hold your audience’s attention and stop them scrolling through their text messages while you speak.

Let’s face it, this is why movies use gorgeous stars and dramatic story-lines to keep us engaged- not to mention awesome soundtracks, special effects and fast-paced shots…you are trying to compete with this, need I say more?


  1. The screen magnifies (all) behaviour

Add in all the bad habits so endemic in corporate communication: people being distracted by their devices, poor quality of presence and listening, waffling and a lack of preparation or clarity of purpose, data dumps and an inability to make sense, a lack of rapport and competing agendas or power struggles… these behaviours are magnified on screen with disastrous results.

Not to mention that surreptitious yawn, distracted eye-lines or bored body language…recipes for death by virtual meeting!


  1. The screen requires 110% energy

An online, live interaction is a big energy proposition if you want to have impact and presence. It requires focused, compelling communication through that camera lens to be successful. It’s a performance art.

It’s unrealistic and exhausting to expect yourself and teams to sit in hours of online meetings a day. Most people are citing the ‘energy drain’ as one of their biggest challenges to doing business through a webcam and screen. Its killing productivity.

Online meetings need to be short, purposeful and used only when no other form of communication will do the job.

Then, when handled well, they can open endless possibilities to engage whole new audiences, connect your services to global markets or enable  your team to thrive.

In my next article I will share with you my top tips to master virtual communication, to restore your sanity and get some work done!

I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts, so feel free to drop me a line.

If you are keen to discover how to transform your virtual team meetings, client engagements and online presentations into spaces for impact and influence, contact us now. We’d love to help you accelerate the mastery of these new skills and the boost the productivity of your organisation.

Check out our most popular Virtual Communication Skills Webinars and Coaching here.