How to Stay Focused During Virtual Meetings

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Lengthy meetings can be hard to sit through when you’re all in one room at the same long table. But, when you have hours-long meetings via video conference where everyone is just a box on a screen, it becomes much easier for your mind to wander. Since remote work is becoming more and more popular, we do need to find a way to stay as focused on minute 50 that we were at minute three.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re getting ready to log on to a video conference and want to keep your attention span in check.

Turn Off Notifications

When you attend a meeting in real life, you can leave your phone at your desk and close your laptop when it’s not needed. But obviously, for a virtual meeting, you need your computer to attend. So, while you should still leave your phone in another room or turn it face down, open the video conference in its own tab and pause your inbox and any other notifications that pop up. This way, you’re not alerted about incoming emails, chats or other messages that can pull your attention away from the meeting itself.

Have a Goal

At the beginning of the meeting, or even when you’re invited in the first place, have a goal for what you want to get out of the meeting. Regardless of whether you’re hosting or attending, it’s helpful to go in knowing your personal purpose. It could be the answer to a question, clarity on something, or more knowledge on a particular project. Whatever it is, outline that goal before joining and make sure by the end, that goal is met.

Ask Questions

Actively listening, especially for a prolonged period of time, can be difficult. But it can help when you both have your goal and jot down and ask questions as they come up. As they say, no question is a stupid question, and it’s likely if you’re wondering about something, someone else is, too. Since you don’t want to interrupt someone, you can use your body language to show that you have a question or wait until they ask if anyone needs clarification. Depending on the formality of the meeting, there could be specific times for Q&A. The important thing is that you speak up and ask!

Take Notes

If you find yourself continually struggling to remain present during a video conference despite no notification distractions and actively listening, try taking notes on the important points covered. Pretend like you’re responsible for updating a sick team member on what happened in the meeting and jot down things that will help you once you sign off. This could be big reveals about the company, something new your manager is expecting everyone to do or a new stat that could help you on a future project. While your notes don’t need to be as thorough as they would be if you were to be tested, forcing yourself to take occasional notes helps you to stay focused on what is being said and also serves as a great resource for when the meeting is over.

While no one looks forward to attending lengthy virtual meetings, it’s something that we should start to get used to. With these four tactics, paying attention and coming out of the meeting feeling like it was worthwhile becomes a little bit easier.

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