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Bad virtual meeting etiquette we're leaving in 2021

Let's be honest about 2021. What were some of your productivity wins? Anything you would have done better? Now, think even deeper. How many hours did you spend in meetings every week? Over the 40 hours in a workweek, make an honest estimate.

Hint: According to John White at, we spent at least 12 hours preparing for and attending meetings every week. Over 30%.

Try to think past the unavoidable Monday meetings or lengthy back-to-back calls.

Did small virtual meeting slip-ups hurt your productivity? If you’re like us, you can probably recall several bad practices for virtual meetings that made you groan out loud. Here are 4 unproductive habits we think should stay in 2021.

Bad practice #1: No clear meeting agenda.

We've all been to bad meetings without a clear purpose. Decisions are messy, strategies are haphazard, and no one leaves feeling like they accomplished anything. A session without a goal (or an agenda to reach that goal) is one of the worst practices for virtual meetings.

You don't need a big to-do list before your call. What do you want to happen by the end of this meeting? Write down a few points that will get everyone there. Send a call agenda a day before the meeting or delegate responsibilities. You'll feel more prepared, as will the rest of the team.

Bad practice #2: Extra-long meetings and video calls.

Long meetings require much effort from everyone who attends, whether they're virtual or in-person.

  1. You need to carve out a chunk of time.
  2. Your full attention is needed for a while.
  3. After 45 minutes, we've all lost sight of the endgame.

If you're planning a longer meeting, see if you can accomplish parts of it in another way (e.g., a Slack chat or short email thread). Can you do the introductory steps or ideation phases in a series of shorter meetings?

Being mindful of your participants' time and mental fatigue is great meeting etiquette. Run a structured tool with your session to manage time and streamline everyone’s contributions. For example, Axis breaks your meeting up into 5 design thinking phases so you can divide your time wisely and keep bad meetings at bay.

Bad practice #3: Same old ice breakers and intros.

Starting meetings with the same intros and overused ice breakers doesn't work. If you’re honest, you've probably recycled your "two truths and a lie" response a dozen times. We've used “no-pressure” introductions since grade school. Time to change it up this year.

Part of your meeting prep might be well spent finding a different icebreaker game than you've used before. Mix it up and keep a list close so you don't rely on one intro to get everyone going.

Start your meeting or workshop with Axis' Share phase. You can customise the ice breaker methods to match your meeting objectives. This year, stay tuned to your Share tab for some fun new ice breakers and give your team even more variety.

Bad practice #4: Forgetting the post-call notes.

No proof of collaboration and a missing action plan can make great meetings sour fast. What happens after you create, analyse, and outline your solution? Many times, responsibilities slip through the cracks and work stops.

Post-call notes may seem like a time-waster, but they help you track your team's progress—even after bad meetings. With one glance, you (and anyone you copy) can see what happened during the meeting, what was discussed, and which action items need follow-ups.

In the final Action phase, Axis makes a report of your workshop findings, conveniently divided by section. Set goals with your team, assign roles, and let Axis export everything. Put your team on the focus track this year.

Did you know that taking calls, typing texts, and distracted multitasking were the leading bad meeting behaviours last year?  With interactive icebreakers, a clear agenda, and anonymous collaboration, Axis can keep your team on the same page.

You'll always pass the virtual meeting etiquette test with shorter, sharper, and more structured meetings. Try Axis with your team!

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