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How to Be a Good Listener in Online Meetings

As school and work meddle their way into our houses, living rooms, and personal computers, the irony derived from the excessive use of ways of connecting, along with the lack of effective communication related to today’s online meetings, is staggering. Although most of us will spend the majority of our days staring at a screen, most likely texting someone, scrolling through social media, or reading and writing emails, participating in meetings, classes, or any kind of virtual gathering at our computer, the quality of the messages collected by our brains at the end of the day is surprisingly low: we are simply scanning and discarding information, likely because we are handling everything and nothing at the same time, so our attention span simply cannot deal with it.

online meeting GILE

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With that in mind, in this article, we will try to shed some light on how to make the best of our online communications routine, and how to effectively communicate a listeners in online meetings.

Communicating effectively as a listener

This category is represented by the majority of us: as students, we must log in and listen to the professors trying to explain new topics through a screen. Usually, the classes will begin and finish without cameras or microphones, therefore there is not a lot of interaction. As listeners, it is our responsibility to make ourselves present, so for these examples, we are assuming that everyone is interested in learning and is not only attending the classes to get an attendance grade. Here are some tips to effectively communicate as a listener:

1. In the (online) classroom: Participate, lose the fear of the ridicule

We have all been there when the professor asks a question and then patiently waits while someone dares to answer. We do not answer because we assume that someone else will. The same idea is shared by everyone, therefore a good 15 to 30 seconds are gone in silence before something happens. It is a proverbial waste of time and energy to just sit there waiting, without learning either the subject or any soft skills. As students, we are there to learn, not to sit in front of a screen wishing for the minutes to go by faster. So, let’s dare to engage in the learning process. Asking questions is a great place to start.

 

Let’s be honest: usually, we do not ask because we are afraid of looking dumb. “It is probably a stupid question”, we tell ourselves. Well, what is the worst that can happen? Maybe someone will roll their eyes in their houses, in front of their computers, because they know the answer to our question. They can feel very proud of themselves, and that is it. Or even better: likely, someone else is also wondering about the same thing, so we will even be helping someone else clarify their doubts, which is among the coolest things we can do with our time on this planet.

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In the end, the teacher will give us the explanation we need, and everyone will finish the hour knowing a bit more about the world than before. Yes, it is scary, we will get anxious, our heart will race, our hands will shake, and so will our voice, but effective communication requires effort. We can just take a deep breath, open the mic, and start with “excuse me, I have a question”. The rest will come.

 

Extra tip

 

We do not need to wait to have a super complicated question before asking. Sometimes clarification, repeating a concept to make sure that we got it, or just engaging in a discussion can encourage us, the professor, and other students to make the learning process more effective.

2. In the (online) workplace: Engage in the challenges

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Article Writer & Content Contributor

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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