The tendency for attendees to get bored while they are on conference calls is much higher than it is for in-person meetings. There are a number of reasons for this, but most of all it comes down to the fact that attendees are getting bored because they don’t have to pay attention as much as they would if they were all in the same room.
As reported in Harvard Business Review, InterCall Survey Data highlighted some really rather egregious behaviors from bored online meeting attendees. For example, 40 percent of participants admitted that they have previously “dropped off” a call without announcing their departure in the hope that nobody will notice that they are no longer there.
People really do just walk out on virtual meetings without saying a word!
Imagine if you were in a meeting room with a group of colleagues, and suddenly one of them got up and left without saying a word. Nobody can sneak out of a physical meeting without being noticed, and more to the point, it would be considered very rude to do so.
The truth is, that we act up in online meetings because we can. When there is nobody actually watching us, some of us behave very differently than we would if we were in the office.
They also nod off!
In the InterCall Survey, 27 percent of participants said that they have fallen asleep more than once during conference calls. Others said that they have been on the call, and stayed awake, but that they took a call from somewhere far, far away from where they were supposed to be. Some of the more interesting locations included: while on a hike in the woods; while outside cooking on the grill; in a gas station restroom; during a wedding rehearsal; at a pool in Las Vagas; at DisneyWorld; in the fitting room while trying on clothes.
However, 13 percent admit that they have been found out when they have taken a call from somewhere other than the place that they were supposed to be—so we don’t get away with these things all the time it seems.
If you are bored during conference calls, here are some ideas to keep you interested and invested in the discussion.
Ask yourself: Should I be here?
Not should you be in DisneyWorld. Should you be on the call? If you are bored on a conference call, maybe that is telling you that you don’t need to be there and that you could be doing something more effective with that time.
It’s so easy to send an all-inclusive blanket calendar invite these days that sometimes we are not discerning enough about a) who we invite to meetings, and b) the meetings that we accept on our schedules. You might also decide that while one section of the meeting is relevant to you, you don’t have to stay for all of it.
Pretend that you are in the same room as the other attendees.
You’ll behave better if you pretend that everyone can see you. Fact.
Close all non-relevant tabs on your computer.
And if you are using your smartphone to attend the meeting, close your laptop. It’s so easy to get distracted by emails and other web-based information when you are looking at your computer. The problem is, that humans are horribly bad at multi-tasking, and you’ll lose the thread of the conversation if you check out for even a minute.