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Working from Home During COVID-19: Ineffective Meetings


If your meetings are not as productive as you would like, below are some ideas on why they may be ineffective and a few tips to fix potential issues that you maybe experiencing.

Why Meetings May be Ineffective

1. Meeting is Unnecessary

There is no need for a meeting. Topics are simple and could be handle via e-mail instead. Unnecessary meetings waste time.


2. Lacks Clarity or Purpose

Objectives are not clearly defined, and the meeting just rambles on—there is no direction or cohesive flow to discussions. This is why an agenda is important and should be established before the meeting and used as a guide throughout.


3. Problems Are Talked About Rather Than Talked/Worked Through

I have been in many meetings that turn into complaining sessions about issues only. Everyone keeps stating the issues and its effects in a variety of ways. In a productive meeting, the problem should be stated so everyone understands, but the objective is solutioning. The discussions should move from problem to options to the resolution. Always keep that in mind and your meetings will be successful.


4. No Clear-Cut Decisions Are Made or Communicated

Once a resolution is reached, there is no clear communication of the resolution to relevant parties. Make sure any decisions are communicated, whether it is at the end of the discussion point, the end of the meeting, or in the meeting minutes that are sent.


5. Lack of Leadership

Leader has too much control or not enough control. They close down discussions too quickly or disregards contributions. They allow segues and highjacking. They do not follow their agenda. They do not facilitate the discussion. They speak too fast or too quietly. Poor time management.

Meeting leaders must proactively manage the meeting, guiding the discussions and making sure the meeting flows toward the desired outcome.


6. Too Large Due to Unnecessary Attendees/Topics

Limits the flow of discussion and prevents all members from being able to contribute. Too many agenda items to cover. Invite only required participants. If it’s still a large list, inform all that when making comments, they should be concise or sent in a timely manner before the meeting for it to be considered.


7. Wrong People Are Present

It is important that the audience you have in your meeting is the one you need to achieve your agenda and goals for the meeting.


8. Technical Difficulties

Technology is a great thing. But know this: Something can and will go wrong. Accept that. The best way to handle these issues that come up is to first keep calm. People tend to get nervous, and that just makes things worse. Inform everyone that there is an issue and let them know you need a few minutes to address it. Mute yourself and then go about trying to fix it, whether it’s calling the help desk, speaking with your alternate host to set up another meeting quickly, etc. If you don’t know what the issue is, do not be afraid to say that.

Over the weekend, I attended an online event that experienced technical difficulties. The organizers quickly communicated that there was an issue and asked for our patience while they addressed it. It took about 5 minutes to fix and then the rest of the event went perfectly.


To make your meetings more effective, often times you just need to make a few simple adjustments and you will see noticeable improvements.

In upcoming posts we will list some quick tips for meeting effectiveness and dive into actual working from home strategies.


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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