8 Things That Always Go Wrong In Web Meetings

It’s not just you.

August 27, 2015

Would you have believed me in 2005 if I had told you that the same things would still be going wrong in web meetings in 2015?

Why is it that we are so obsessed with robots taking all of the jobs when we can’t even get a web meeting to reliably work?

If you are planning to have a web meeting today, and that meeting has more than 5 people, here is what will go wrong:

1. Someone Will Not Be Able To Get Into the Meeting: Inevitably, someone in the meeting will have trouble getting into the meeting. They will try to launch the meeting in a browser or an application, and fail. They will scramble to start the meeting from a different browser. They will download the meeting plug-in. Eventually, they will get it to work - but they will be late to the meeting.

2. Someone Will Not Be Able To Get Audio To Work: Why is VOIP still so difficult in 2015? The combination of getting microphone and speakers to work seamlessly looks to be more difficult than creating a self-driving car. Someone’s audio will be too faint. Someone will be causing feedback. Someone will be able to hear and not speak. Folks will switch to the phone, but that will also cause feedback.

3. Lots of People Will Have Trouble with the Webcam: There is nothing worse than a web meeting when only half the folks are on the webcam. There are always those participants who flat out refuse to turn on their webcam. They don’t like how the look, or they want to be able to multitask without everyone seeing them do so. A few people will try to start their webcam and will fail. They will swear that it was working for Skype, but for some reason the webcam is not longer available for the web meeting.

4. The Attempt to Share Web Pages and Documents Will Fail: The promise of the web meeting is to share digital resources during the meeting. This almost never works. Nobody can figure out how to share a web page. Trying to provide a common writing or virtual white boarding surface is guarantee to frustrate all but the most experienced web meeting participants.  

5. There Will Be Weird Noises in the Background: The loss of private offices has been accompanied by the rise of the web meeting. This is a terrible combination.  Quality web meetings are the latest victim of open office setups. The amount of noise pollution that people live with in their working days is truly shocking.  

6. Some Folks Will Try to Participate Without Their Laptops: Inevitably, there is always someone on a web meeting who does not actually have access to the web. They are calling in on the go. They are trying to use their mobile device to participate. Since they are not seen in the video screen everyone will forget they are in the meeting. They will get frustrated.

7. Any Room A/V for Large Web Meetings Will Fail: The works web meetings are when a group of people try to get together in a conference room to join the discussion. The conference room video and audio never quite works to enable all the people in the room to participate. Something will go wrong with the computer, speakers, or camera that is supposed to enable the room based web meeting. Meeting participants will get distracted by their own laptops, iPads, and Android phones - as that next pressing e-mail needs to be answered RIGHT NOW.

8. Valuable Meeting Time Will Be Spent Troubleshooting Technical Problems: All these logon, audio, and video problems will mean that time is spent trying to fix things. This will cut into time to actually talk to each other.  

When do web meetings actually work as advertised?

I’ve seen web meetings work if the same people use the same meeting platform consistently. If everyone goes up the learning curve together, and the participants stay relatively stable, then web meetings can work. I’ve seen great results in synchronous online teaching as well, as long as there is robust technical support, training, and a long enough time for everyone to work out the kinks.

Why do the same things always go wrong with web meetings?

What is the year that web meetings will work seamlessly?

What web meeting platform would you recommend that is the simplest, and that is built to be robust and resilient in all circumstances?

What else do you see going wrong in web meetings?


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