How NOT to Wait for an Online Meeting to Begin (and What to do Instead)


| August 25, 2020 | in

While waiting for online meetings to start, we often find ourselves passing that time in various ways. Unfortunately, this can distract us and possibly lead to us not being as engaged as we should be.

There are things you absolutely should avoid doing while waiting for others to join an online meeting. As a person who has been guilty of a few of these activities on this list, I’ve listed five ways you should NOT spend your time and then five things you can do instead.

Don’t install new software. This one seems obvious, but it is compelling to get something installed right before a meeting. But if that installation causes any problems with your machine, you could end up in a bad spot. Trust me; it can wait.

Don’t start a second phone call. I have violated this one. While waiting for one meeting, I try to sneak in another meeting quickly. Usually not a great decision.

Don’t play a YouTube video. I try to avoid videos during my work time (which can lead to me getting sucked into a Babish video on how to cook a steak). They just get me in trouble.

Don’t make a sandwich. Sometimes the tummy starts rumbling during these stretches of back-to-back meetings. I don’t recommend leaving the call altogether to make a sandwich.

Don’t go for a walk outside. This one is a lot like the previous tips. Stay near your screen so you are ready when the meeting starts. And definitely don’t join a meeting if you are in the middle of an outdoor activity – it is distracting.


Do prep for the meeting. For most of my meetings, there’s almost always some aspect I need to prepare for, whether opening a file to share or just getting in the right frame of mind for the topics that may come up.

Do prep for the next meeting. If I am prepped for the current meeting and still have more time, I’ll look ahead to the next meeting and begin getting ready for that.

Do send follow-ups from previous meetings. Sending follow-ups from my previous meeting can be a great way to spend a few minutes since many little details are still fresh in my head. Even five minutes often provides enough time to at least get a good draft in place.

Do get up and stretch. If you spend your day sitting, spending a few minutes just to do some stretches is an excellent way to spend five minutes. Maybe turn off your camera first. 🙂

Do read your email. I am often behind on email (there are over 100+ unread emails in my inbox as I write this blog post). Knocking out even a few of them can put you ahead later on.


These are just some examples I came up with based on personal experience. How do you spend time waiting for a meeting to begin? Share your tips below.

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