Like most of the folks reading this I’ll spend a good proportion of my day in remote meetings. Generally these are:
- one to one
- multi-way audio
- multi-way web meeting (some with integrated audio)
- Video calls (few)
But more importantly I’ll class those meetings as:
- relevant to me for most of the meeting
- relevant for some of the meeting
- only relevant for a small portion of the meeting
Now hopefully you’ll have sent me an agenda before the meeting so I won’t even attend the last category, so lets ignore those (I tend to duck out politely). The top of the list is easy, I tend to remain totally engaged throughout those meetings as they are completely relevant to me and what I need to achieve.
The problem comes of meetings where only a portion of the meeting is relevant. When this is the case I suffer the temptation of distraction, like you I have lots to do and this call is dragging on and I’m not to interested in what X is saying. The problem is that after we’ve switched off something relevant comes up and a question is directed our way – “could you repeat that please” becomes a well heard phrase. So in order to maintain attention I have to take some basic measures (which are actually more difficult than they sound):
- Audio calls: I walk around! Carry a notepad and pencil and literally stretch my legs (sometimes outdoors) but generally round the house when working from home. I really find it helps maintain concentration – but more importantly takes me away from distraction!
- Web meetings: I have to force myself not to get into IM’s, read emails, tinker with my action lists or write that report I need to finish. Its really hard – I know I’m not the only one who finds it hard.
In summary my survival technique is to avoid all calls with limited relevance and for those where I have limited input either pre-arrange a subset of the call to attend OR really concentrate on avoiding distraction.
What are your tips?