Updated: Mar 21, 2021
Lack of engagement is very common
Video Meeting Signals were inspired by a common occurrence in the video meetings we studied - a lack of reaction and connection between speaker and listener. When interviewed by our researchers, speakers often said they did not know if the other participants were really listening or were interested. One interviewee described being faced with, ‘a sea of silence and blank faces.’ Conversely those who were listening to the speaker often said they were interested and listening but had no way to show this or to participate. Others said they were initially interested but because they were not actively involved, they became uninterested and were then tempted to do other things (if they felt they could ‘get away with it’, for example, during a screen share). Often both parties were left dissatisfied and the outcome was frustration and disengagement, and a feeling that online meetings were not very effective.
User feedback: problems with communication, engagement and connection
I do not know when I can speak and sometimes, we all try to speak at once; I am not sure how to respond when someone asks a question.
I find it hard to read the body language – to work out what is really going on; what people feel.
I cannot make eye contact.
It is not so easy to make an emotional connection with others on the call, especially those I do not know so well/have not met face to face/are new to the team.
Calls can seem more formal/distanced than face to face meetings.
I do not know what other people think or feel when I am speaking, or even if they are listening to me!
I am not always engaged; it is easy to switch off or get bored.
It is difficult to do small talk; It is not so easy to chat socially before a meeting starts or over a coffee break – like you would in a real meeting.
User feedback: Problems with meeting behaviours
We are a bit dysfunctional - people turn up late, some people do not turn their video on, or they do at the start then they turn it off again.
Not everyone is familiar with the technology/there are often technology problems.
The meetings are poorly structured and run
I am sure some people are doing other things when I speak/screen share
When screen share comes on I sometimes/often do other things (emails, browse internet)
There are background distractions during calls; people unmute themselves; you can hear children, dogs, doorbells…
Also see this fascinating article from Tech Republic about a survey of engagement of 4600 video conferencing users.