Avoiding meeting fatigue in three easy steps


March 16, 2021 by Jason Yavorska, photo by Gabriel Benois

Video meetings sometimes feel like an unavoidable, exhausting downside of remote work, but the reality is there is a lot you can do to not have to schedule them in the first place, or to get the most out of the ones you do have.

There are three strategies that have worked for me over the years:

  • Skipping when you can
  • Being prepared when you must
  • Staying focused during the meeting

Can you skip that meeting

The first way to reduce the impact of meetings on your workday is to identify the ones that can be avoided. There are some great techniques you can use here, but the most important thing is to ask yourself - what am I hoping to accomplish with this meeting, and does it require live, realtime interaction? You’d be surprised how often the answer is no. Here are a few examples:

  • Want to communicate an update? A great alternative to having a meeting is to record a video of yourself presenting the info, and then sharing it. Everyone can watch it at their own schedule and is kept in the loop, no meeting required. If written content is more your thing, you can create a document and share it out.

  • Need to solicit feedback? Do the same thing, but provide a structured place to give feedback. This is where a document can be handy since everyone can add realtime comments and questions. Google Forms can also be great in combination with a video or document.

  • Want to make a decision? Again, you don’t need a meeting for this most of the time. You can use a tool like AsyncGo, or even just a shared document, but take even more care to structure the flow of the written responses. Typically, making a decision is different from gathering feedback or sharing an update because there are phases to the discussion.

Make sure it’s focused

All right, you couldn’t avoid the meeting. How can you make it shorter?

  • Taking the idea above of recording/writing your presentation ahead of time can serve as a pre-read for your meeting. Everyone can read/watch the context ahead of time, and you can shorten your meeting by the amount of time that it would have taken to present it live.

  • Make sure you have a clear agenda with a focused, clear outcome that everyone will be working together towards.

  • This is more a time saver for the organizer, but you should ask yourself if you really need that nice presentation at all, or if you can communicate the important context with a few bullet points or links to references that can be shared.

Spend time wisely

You’ve got a nice, focused meeting - how do you make sure you get the most out of your time so further follow-ups don’t need to be scheduled?

  • Keep focused to your agenda. Having a clear outcome in mind makes it easier to table digressions which could be followed up on elsewhere and helps ensure that you don’t run out of time.

  • By recording your meetings, you can ensure you always start and stop on time. Anyone who wasn’t able to make the beginning because they were running late can always watch the recording and get caught up later.

  • Finally, your camera doesn’t need to be on to communicate clearly. For some people, having their camera on can be a stressful distraction. A few tools are starting to add a feature to not show yourself to yourself, but for the rest - there’s nothing wrong with communicating audio only.

Hope these help you bring more focus time into your workday!

Person working remotely

Are you interested in having fewer/better meetings, and collaborating with your team with more flexibility? We'd love to have you give AsyncGo a try.

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