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Working from Home During COVID-19: Attending a Meeting



In the previous post, I wrote about meetings from the perspective of the person leading the meeting. Now, I would like to focus on what you should do as an attendee to contribute to the success of a meeting.

Virtual meetings are not by any means new but due to this crisis we are facing, they might be new to you and your company. They present even more challenges than face-to-face meetings in terms of communication, especially when attendees have different first languages. In my experience, I have worked with Japanese professionals who were confident speaking English in person, but when on the phone or in a virtual meeting, the language barrier seemed to be more of a challenge.

There are steps you can take to ensure that you get the most out of a meeting, contribute effectively, understand everything being said, and feel more comfortable overall.

Attending a meeting

  1. Accept/decline the meeting invite in a timely manner

2. If you are required for decision making, definitely accept/decline in advance so appropriate steps can be taken by the meeting organizer

3. Be on time. If running late, inform meeting organizer as soon as possible

4. Be an active and focused participant. Listen attentively and do not multi-task

5. Ask questions. Ask for clarification. Ask speakers to repeat if you missed something

6. Speak slowly and clearly when called upon. Avoid slang, idioms.

7. Use your mute button proactively. Working from home means there will be background noise unusual to an office setting: children, pets, doorbells, etc.

8. Answer general “check in” questions from the meeting leader. I have attended many meetings where the meeting owner asks simple feedback questions such as “Can everyone hear me?” or “Can everyone see my screen or the document I am sharing?” and no one answers. Everyone thinks someone else will answer, so no one does. Be the person who answers—the meeting leader needs feedback

9. Don’t highjack: Stick to the topic(s) at hand and do not introduce unrelated topics because you have an audience. Set up your own meeting

10. If you are introducing a relevant topic:
• Ask to introduce it and give a brief summary
• If you have a visual, use it to “anchor” for clarity

11. Latecomers: Avoid interrupting discussions in progress by asking for a recap. It is your responsibility to obtain any information you missed

If attendees keep these tips in mind, they will get the most out of a meeting, contribute in a more meaningful way, and feel more at ease overall.


In our upcoming post, we will look at ways to make meetings more effective.

With a background of ten years living in Japan and almost 20 years of experience working with remote teams worldwide, Yvonne Burton, president of Burton Consulting International, provides services including Technology Consulting, Business Communications courses, and Cross-Cultural Training to Japanese firms operating internationally and companies operating in the Japanese market. To learn more about Yvonne and her work, please visit burtonconsulting.biz.

Share this article with friends who may be struggling with establishing a consistent work-from-home routine, especially if they are Japanese or work for a Japanese company. We’d love to know what challenges you’ve been facing as you work from home. Please submit any questions you may have or any topics you would like Yvonne to address by sending an email to susan@japanculture-nyc.com. Yvonne will post here three times a week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn from her.


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