The global health crisis has propelled many organizations and teams into the world of remote work. This new territory can come with a lot of challenges, especially if you and your colleagues have never had the opportunity to work remotely before. One of these challenges is being able to conduct a meeting in a virtual landscape, with the same effectiveness that would be achieved in your regular office environment. Learn how to conduct highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams from a team of virtual workers who do this on a daily basis.
Start your virtual meeting off on the right foot and be sure that the meeting is scheduled correctly and with sufficient notice for your meeting attendees. Send out calendar invites for your meeting well in advance – the sooner the better, so that everyone can prepare accordingly. Ensure that your meeting attendees are familiar with the platform you are using for the meeting (whether it be Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Video Messenger, or another platform) and that they can access the service through their device. Send out the necessary links, codes, and passwords to access your meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting, so that your meeting attendees aren’t scrambling to locate these right before the scheduled meeting time.
Ensure that the space you are conducting your meeting from is as “meeting-friendly” as can be (whatever that means for you, and with the limitations we are facing during quarantine). Try to find a space in your home with minimal distractions. Having a clean, simple background behind you is ideal. You want your colleagues to be looking at you, not your background environment. If you will be holding meetings on a regular basis, convert an area in your home into a designated meeting space. This will save you a lot of time for set up and tear down after each meeting. Make sure that your children and housemates are aware of the time that your meeting is taking place, so that background noise can be kept to a minimum and there are no unexpected walk-ins to your meeting.
Although many of us might be working from home in our comfiest clothes, a virtual meeting is not the time to show off your coziest pyjamas. You must present yourself professionally, if you want your colleagues to take you and what you are saying seriously. Even if you don’t think they can see what your wearing waist down, you never know what could happen. A toddler can burst through that door and all of a sudden everyone sees you chasing down your kid in a pair of sweatpants, while wearing a dress shirt. This is still an office environment, even if it may not feel that way. So, demonstrating to others that you are maintaining this level of professionalism will set the tone for the meeting and set an example for others to follow suit.
There is nothing more frustrating than a tech issue during a video conference call. It keeps others waiting and eats up everyone’s time. Before the meeting make sure that you and your colleagues all test your Internet (a quick router reset can increase the speed), that microphones and cameras have been tested through the platform you are using, and that your lighting is clear and bright (facing a window or purchasing a small, clip-on laptop light helps if you are in a darker environment).
Having a clear and well-organized agenda is imperative if you want to have a smooth and efficient meeting. Distribute this agenda before the meeting so that your meeting attendees can review what is being discussed and prepare questions or materials if required. Limit each meeting to a few, big topics, with smaller sub-topics, so that no one is left feeling overwhelmed by the end of the meeting. Keep the topics relevant to everyone who is included in the meeting. Having a logical flow from topic to topic helps keep your attendees engaged and all on the same page throughout the course of the meeting.
Everyone’s time is valuable and without question, the effects of quarantine are making many people feel workplace burnout right now. You want to ensure that your meetings are relevant to the people you are involving, that they are concise, and that your topics follow reasonable time limits. No one wants to be in a meeting that doesn’t apply to them or with discussions going in circles, with no end in sight. Be mindful of people’s time and set reasonable expectations for time limits on each subject. Move on from a topic if you feel that everyone has understood what has been communicated, or if you feel that it has been discussed for too long. Having someone act a meeting facilitator can help with keeping track of time, announcing when to move on to another topic, and managing meeting attendees and their questions within the chat box.
Leaving a meeting feeling overwhelmed or unclear about what work is required from you and how to take action, are the signs of an ineffective meeting. You want to make sure that the end of your meeting is conclusive. Your colleagues should have a clear understanding of how that meeting applied to their roles and what actions they need to take next. If maybe one or two individuals aren’t clear about the meeting, stay on the conference call with just those select people after everyone else has left to clarify any questions.
Conducting highly effective virtual meetings with newly remote teams can be very challenging for teams transitioning to working within a virtual landscape. At Virtual Gurus, we are experts in virtual meetings and conduct all of our meetings over video conferencing. Follow our tips to make the most of your meeting time with your colleagues and how to create effective virtual meetings from start to finish.