Career Advice Workplace

How to Stay Focused During a Remote Meeting

By: Charlotte Couch
Sep 9, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Stay Focused During a Remote Meeting

Since the start of the pandemic, most people are currently working from home. One of the perks of working from home is that you no longer have to get out of your desk and sit through a boring meeting while you think about how much work you have left to do. Now, you can join from the comfort of your own home with your sweats still on. You might even be able to answer an email or two without anyone noticing. While this change might be great for some people, it can be more challenging for others who are easily distracted or are tempted to try to multitask during the meeting. This can land you in hot water down the road if people notice that you are not engaged or shy away from participating. To help you out, we have assembled a guide on staying focused during your remote meeting.

remote meeting

Remove Any Distractions

Having a cluttered desk can be distracting. Before you hop onto a video call, try to clear it of any coffee cups, books, utensils, or notebooks. When faced with a cluttered desk, your mind can become overwhelmed and stressed by the number of items strewn about. Keeping a clean and neat desk will help you stay focused and ready to participate in the meeting. Should you need to grab something during the meeting, you will be able to find it quickly rather than awkwardly having to spend several minutes rifling through your messy desk. In addition to clearing away unnecessary clutter on your desk, you should also remember to clean and sanitize your keyboard and computer screen. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and high touch surfaces like these can carry germs and bacteria.

Keep Your Camera On

It can be tempting to keep your camera off and your microphone on mute during a meeting. But if you can see yourself tuning out and scrolling through Facebook, it’s best if you keep it on. Not only will it help you stay attentive and engaged, but it will also help you look good for your boss and teammates. Plus, it can be awkward for the meeting host to talk to a faceless icon. Some people might even take it as rude if your camera is off during a meeting. Knowing that your camera will be turned on, you might also be motivated to change out of your sweats and into a crisp, business casual outfit. According to numerous experts, dressing up a little can help you feel motivated and productive. The only times you would want to turn your camera off if there is a sudden disruption, you need to take care of or if someone is presenting.

Mute Your Texts and Emails

Before the meeting, you need to set your phone on silent mode and update your status on the company messaging service. If necessary, place it in a drawer or any other hidden location to lower the temptation of checking it during the meeting. Most email applications will also let you adjust your status and turn off notifications for new messages. People will know that you are at a meeting and will probably be unlikely to answer a message right away.

remote meeting

Make Sure You Eat Beforehand

Working through the afternoon slump can be a real struggle. Energize yourself with some nutritious snacks before your meeting. Instead of reaching for a bag of fries, consider snacking on some of these foods instead:

  • Hummus and pita bread
  • Pretzels
  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Low-fat popcorn
  • Vegetables and dip

Whatever you do, try to eat these snacks before the meeting. Even though you are physically separated from your co-workers, everyone can still see you eating your food. This can be quite distracting and even a little annoying. Having a drink by you, such as tea or coffee, can also help you stay alert. Most people are fine with having a drink during the meeting, as it tends to be less disruptive.

Take Thorough Notes

Taking thorough notes with a pen and some paper will help you listen to everyone else more effectively. If you have any questions you want to ask but need to wait for a little, you can jot them down and wait until you have an opening. By writing down your notes, you won’t have to worry about muting and unmuting yourself every time you have to start typing. Many research studies have even found that taking notes by hand is much more beneficial than typing them out. This is because you are forced to listen to the speaker and process the information before recording it. With a laptop, you can type down notes verbatim without really processing what is being said. However, you will likely have more trouble recalling the information than if you wrote it down the old-school way.

remote meeting

Tips for Organizing Your Own Virtual Meeting

Organizing your own virtual meeting can be stressful. If you are still getting used to Zoom or Skype, you might feel a little nervous and apprehensive toward setting your own. Luckily, these applications are pretty user-friendly and easy to navigate. As you set up the meeting, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Create an agenda so that people can prepare for the meeting ahead of time
  • Create a clear objective to help your co-workers understand the purpose of the meeting
  • Encourage everyone to keep their cameras on
  • Make sure everyone — both introverted and extroverted — has a chance to participate and ask questions
  • Try to keep the meeting to an hour at a maximum to prevent people from getting bored and antsy
  • Don’t forget to test out your technology before starting the meeting

For many people, the initial transition to a WFH lifestyle was tedious and confusing. But as we continue to get used to this new set-up, more people are starting to warm up to it. How have you adjusted to working from home since the start of the pandemic? Let us know on our social media!

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