How to improve collaboration during online meetings

With back-to-back online video calls collaborating may feel time-consuming and less productive than before. Many are trying to adapt and manage the present during the many time-pressured one-hour meetings. Current goals are questioned, while we are on the lookout not to miss any new threats or opportunities. Throughout this post, we'll explore three common meeting pitfalls and how to overcome them with specific tools and techniques to collaborate better.

Common Pitfalls to Collaboration

Rabbit hole conversations

Managing uncertainty without tools and techniques can be challenging. We run meetings to ideate and suggest ideas, and then kill them before even exploring them. Discussions can run suddenly and intensely in too many directions. When we climb back out of the rabbit hole, we realize we have just burned another hour without making any progress. Or worse, we have confused ourselves further before we join the next meeting.

Untapped potential

The second pitfall is overlooking the value of our diverse skills, experience, and personalities. Solving complex challenges requires drawing on a wide range of knowledge and expertise. Any person rarely has all the answers, and it can also be rare for "experts" to have new ideas. During online meetings, disengagement is a common risk. By not engaging a team's depth effectively, the full range of possible solutions is left unheard and unexplored. Said another way, the (virtual) room can be smarter than any one person in it.

Idea avalanches

The third risk is to generate more ideas than we can actually explore and make decisions about. We flood more and more suggestions onto the table, and then we feel overwhelmed by the mix of ideas. The result is good ideas go unconsidered, leaving people feeling disheartened and no further along in reaching a solution. 

Preparing for better collaboration

When we explore goals that are complex, ambiguous, and not clear yet, we need a point of reference to be able to set a course into the unknown. Separating the information we know from the areas we want to explore helps us create a shared understanding of the current situation, it's challenges, and possible opportunities. Understanding your current state enables you to define an objective. It is helpful if you make the aspiration as tangible as you can. Perhaps you want to create a project plan, or simply develop a list of steps? Be open to your objectives changing during the exploration!