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 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 in 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, including how leaders can specifically help everyone in the meeting “connect the dots” of the current conversation to the larger team or organizational goals.

In addition, as more and more organizations are shifting to a hybrid work environment, that means that some employees may be in the office while others will be participating in meetings remotely. With the right setup, hosting effective and engaging hybrid meetings is possible! Consider these tips for your next hybrid meeting:

  • First, ask yourself if you even need the meeting in the first place. Many employees complain that it’s hard to get their job done when they have to participate in too many unnecessary meetings, so consider whether what you need can be accomplished in an email or shared document rather than in a real-time meeting.
  • Make sure the in-person participants have access to high-quality audio. Make sure the meeting room is equipped ahead of time with high-quality microphones and speakers to ensure that everyone can easily hear the conversation regardless of where they are seated in the room.
  • Try setting up extra monitors in the room to allow for remote participant screens to be enlarged as if they are “in the room” with the in-person participants. This setup can help to balance the engagement of the remote participants so that they have more equal visual status in the live room and aren’t forgotten during important conversations.
  • Test out all technology in advance! Even if this means hosting a short technology prep session prior to the day of your meeting or event, the short time to ensure everything runs smoothly will have big benefits in saved time on the day of.
  • Lastly, think of ways to increase engagement for everyone involved by considering interactive tools such as polls, webcams, using the chat function, funny background screen images, etc. to make sure everyone feels that they are in the same space together even when they aren’t.