Thursday, March 04, 2021

Board Meetings via Screen

I use Zoom quite a bit for meetings. It is inferior to in-person meetings but it does the trick when a pandemic makes some people think that if you are within three blocks of them you can somehow transmit the virus.

[They may have bigger problems than a virus, but I digress.]

Which brings me to board meetings by screen. They're hugely inferior to in-person meetings. These are three drawbacks that I've noticed:

  1. People are less likely to speak up. It's difficult to read the mood of the group, there is a strange set of rules at play, and no one really knows them. As a result, people clam up. What once might have triggered an emotional but candid exchange is smothered in distance and technology.
  2. You don't have "neighbors." Deciding where to sit could be a strategic decision in the old days because you wanted to be close to allies or adversaries so side comments could be exchanged. True, you can still text people but that's not as expressive as a sigh or a page filled with doodles of daggers.
  3. Comments are shorter. I don't know if it goes back to vivid memories of answering machines that would cut you off after a few seconds, but people reduce their comments and their contributions. The quality and quantity of discussion is harmed.
[Only Slightly Tongue-in-Cheek Idea: With the above in mind, it might be helpful if board meetings had a Tentative Yea or Nay vote button which would give members the chance to revoke their votes within 24 hours.]

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