The larger the group, the less responsibility each individual group member may feel for contributing to the efforts and overall success of the group. In essence, the more people present in the room or in the meeting, the easier it is for each individual person to feel less motivated and more distracted, and to essentially disappear into the crowd and assume others will do the work.
This phenomenon, sometimes called “social loafing”, also shows up in virtual meetings and conference calls. Researchers debate the ideal group size for collaboration and problem-solving in meetings ranging from roughly 6 – 16 participants depending on the task at hand, the time frame for decisions and the makeup of the group. However, there is overall agreement that the higher you go above the ideal group size of about 6 – 8 core members, the more likely it is for those group members to become distracted (Zoom fatigue, anyone?!) and many leave meetings feeling unsatisfied and uninspired.
As leaders and trainers, it is our job to be thoughtful about the strategies we use to: help people engage most effectively in meetings, inspire innovation and engage creative problem-solving, build-in time for mental breaks , and modify our processes to adapt to new virtual spaces (click here to learn more about running great virtual meetings).
For our employees and teams, it’s also helpful to provide guidance to them on how they can effectively listen and engage in remote meetings to get the most out of their participation.
Learn more here about five strategies to help you and your employees get the most out of participating in your next virtual meeting.
Tara B Taylor, MPA