4 Questions to Ask Before Your Zoom Meeting
Everyone loves a good meeting filled with sunflowers, rainbows, dairy products that never spoil, and dental floss that doesn’t jam in your teeth. There’s nothing better than a meeting that’s full of dialogue, proactive thinking, and productive endeavors. This is why you use Zoom. We don’t get in the way of your productive meetings.
There’s another side to this, though. At some point in your life, you will participate in a meeting so dull, you’ll feel like you’re watching paint dry. It’s one thing to attend a meeting like this, but hosting such a meeting can be a major drag on your self image.
You want to have meetings that encourage participation and develop actionable plans. We’ve already spoken about how to engage your participants and keep your meeting from becoming a snore fest. But there’s more to this than simply creating a snappy environment. You also have to know when it’s appropriate to shrink down or push out the meeting. To do this, you have to first ask yourself some questions:
1. Do you have something (important) to discuss?
Rigidity and routine, especially in smaller companies, don’t work. Scheduling a meeting on repeat every week doesn’t make any sense when there’s not much to talk about each week. Instead of this, it’s preferable to allow 2-3 weeks to accumulate until you’ve got substance for the discussion.
If you must meet periodically (i.e. it’s company policy or the weekly check-in has proven helpful), then you should shorten the meeting. We often book meetings for 30 minutes by default. But 30 minutes is a surprisingly long time! If you’re interviewing a potential employee or conducting a strategic planning session with a new partner, you may need at least 30 minutes. But for your typical weekly check-in meeting, try scheduling 10 or 15 minutes. You’ll be in and out and back to work in no time.
2. Do you need to discuss data?
We get it. Sometimes, you need to share some data. Zoom is right there and you can use it at any time with impunity, so why not just round everyone up and talk about projections for the next quarter? As tempting as it is to press the big orange-ish “Start with video” button, you might want to pause for a second to think about whether this is the best way to get all of your points across.
We recommend two courses of action when your meeting will be numbers-heavy:
- Send out your data in advance, with the request that everyone look it over before the meeting. You can push the meeting back if need be – better that than spending the first half of the meeting reviewing the facts and figures.
- Communicating data through words and gestures doesn’t always allow the brain a sufficient amount of time to retain the information. Screen share the data during the meeting instead of just talking about it. Visual representations such as graphs and charts are particularly helpful. You can even use Zoom’s annotation feature to point out the most important take-aways.
3. Is everyone ready for the meeting?
Let’s say you’re in a company that manufactures drill bits and you want to meet about a design made of a new alloy that the folks in the lab cooked up. You decide to schedule a meeting for next Wednesday afternoon in conjunction with the visit of the lab team leader leader.
Wednesday rolls around and surprise, surprise: the lab employee isn’t arriving because he’s consulting for a plant in Atlanta at the time of the meeting.
This kind of thing happens all the time. There are tasks that require multiple specializations and not all of the specialists can come in to discuss it. Sure, if you know a thing or two about alloys, you could wing it, and hopefully the meeting will work out in the end. The odds, however, won’t be in your favor. If a key person cannot attend a meeting, don’t try to “pull through.” Just re-schedule the meeting at some time in the future when everyone can be there.
4. Does the meeting have a strong purpose?
Zooming should be an actionable process. If you’re going to hold a Zoom meeting in your organization, perhaps it’s best to remember the word “zoom.” Aside from having something important to discuss, you must also make the meeting goal-oriented and “zoom” to that goal. The only exception to this is if you’re having a (very short) meeting just to find out where everyone’s at in their tasks.
Whether you’re programming a module or discussing the moral implications within Of Mice and Men, you need to have a goal that must be accomplished by the end of the meeting. This establishes a horse-blinder mindset that puts your sights on a particular target. It’s also how the most collaborative and productive meetings are set up.
But most importantly, if you want a platform for those purposeful meetings and haven’t tried Zoom out yet, sign up now for a free account!