How to Increase the Quality of Virtual Meetings

Zoom and other teleconferencing platforms have allowed businesses to have meetings outside of the office. However, as we continue to do more of these virtual meetings, they are becoming less productive and less engaging. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review described some ways to improve the quality of virtual meetings.


Small Talk

Oftentimes small talk is viewed negatively. Employees may get frustrated with non-work conversation especially when they are trying to balance their work and family. However, small talk was very much a part of the work environment before the pandemic There were short conversations in the break room as employees filled up their coffee cups. The pandemic has also disrupted other events that allowed coworkers to connect with one another and build team cohesion such as happy hours, lunch, potlucks, and other team-building activities.

Some researchers (Frisch & Greene, 2021) suggest that small talk should be a part of virtual meetings. They offer four recommendations:

  1. Putting small talk as the first agenda item.
  2. Starting the meeting with individual check-ins or an icebreaker.
  3. Adding an agenda item designed for sharing opinions.
  4. Leaving unstructured time at the end of the meeting.

Build a BEAN

“Zoom fatigue” is a common problem in virtual meetings. Technology presents many challenges. It can be difficult staring at a computer screen for long periods of time while not being able to make eye contact with co-workers. Other researchers (Anthony et al., 2021) proposed a framework for addressing these challenges called Behavioral Enablers, Artifacts, and Nudges (BEAN). Behavioral enablers are items that help people execute desired behaviors (e.g., checklists for accomplishing tasks). Artifacts and nudges are reinforcements for the behaviors (e.g., visual reminders, alarms). The process entails setting a clear behavioral goal, identifying “behavioral blockers” that stand in the way, and building a BEAN to overcome the blocker and encourage the behavioral goal.

Overall, because of the rising use of virtual meetings, it is crucial to allow for better communication, stronger interpersonal connection, and increased productivity.

Anthony, S.D., Cobban, P., Painchaud, N., & Parker, A. (2021). 3 steps to better virtual meetings. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Frisch, B., & Greene, C. (2021). Make time for small talk in your virtual meetings. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from