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Zoom is Like Being On A Treadmill

Putting zoom into perspective ...

Now that we’ve been subject to move our business and meetings on-line, I’ve found that, for the most part we haven’t flexed into a new way of working as well as one would have expected. And yet, I’m not surprised. If we’ve had unproductive in-person meetings, then they’ve simply been replaced with unproductive zoom meetings.

The challenge seems to be that we are spending a lot of our time on zoom meetings checking-in. Which means that we have little time to actually be productive. Any meeting that has; Discuss, Update, or Information in the agenda (if, in fact there is an agenda) is a waste of time.

There are many ways in which to capture what people need and it’s probably not an entire team gathering to hear one another talk – or worse, to hear one person talk. There is such a thing as too much information. We’re actually happier solving problems and seeing the results.

We can’t help ourselves. It’s been my observation that we have an insatiable need to check-in and micro-manage the work when it appears to be out of sight, certainly NOT out of mind. This speaks more about the workplace culture and leadership than it does anything else.

It’s like being on a treadmill rather than running or walking outside. It’s very different. One is a lot more pleasant than the other and yet it’s still a workout. This analogy hits home for me.

One winter I was training for a marathon. I’ve run many marathons and yet this particular winter it was so icy that I couldn’t safely run outside. I have broken my ankle three times, once on ice, so I have an aversion to ice. All of my miles were done on a treadmill. Fifty-five to six miles a week training on a treadmill. Day after day. Mile after mile after mile. After that winter of training, I couldn’t get myself to run on a treadmill again. It was the monotony of the experience. It was more like – way too much of a ‘good’ thing. That good thing being that I was fortunate to train on a treadmill instead of running outside.

From the zoom meeting perspective – I’ve participated in a number of meetings of late where the host has allocated the exact amount of time on a zoom call as he/she would an in-person meeting. So much so that the agenda even noted; mingling. Mingling? On a zoom call? I get it was an oversight and yet it does drive the point home.

It’s OK to condense our meetings for the platform in which we’re presenting from – whether it be in-person or virtually. It seems that the 3 hour in-person meeting has not translated to reflect a more manageable and tolerable time to stare at a screen. And the long drawn out pauses – UGH. The pauses. It’s like watching a movie in slow motion. Come on people cut to the chase. Pick it up. Let’s move. Let’s go.

At the best of times, maybe, just maybe I can manage to stay seated staring at a screen for an hour without getting up from my seat. Even then I type standing. It appears that being seen taking a zoom meeting while walking one’s dog isn’t truly embraced. I say; “Yay!” Get your brain outdoors thinking more creatively. By the way, this requires a whole other conversation with leadership if they are being rigid and inflexible.

I bet that motivation and creativity has plummeted since we moved our meetings on-line. And not just a couple of on-line meetings (this isn’t that new) – it’s the back to back to back meetings where you just know that the last meeting is going to be the MOST unproductive of the unproductive meetings. Yep. It’s true.

Oh, and then we have the host or commentator, or whomever has the zoom wand running the meeting. If that individual is not comfortable running a virtual meeting, or they have a tough time flowing into a new way of working, then zoom calls can be even MORE painful.

Has this happened to you where the host will hang on one person, where they are describing something to minutiae? Way too much information. Stuff we really don’t need to know. Completely monopolizing the conversation and yet no one says a thing. The host is completely unaware of the room. Reading a room (or reading a screen in this case) is a make or break experience if we want to capture the attention of our audience. It’s the difference between engaging or disengaging. 

Virtual meetings are here to stay, so it’s important to at least get down the basics of how to run virtual meetings if we are to be as engaged, motivated and productive as we would if we were in person. Even then, in person meetings are not immune to the mundane.

All the more reason to first understand why it is that we’re holding a meeting in the first place.

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