Virtual meetings were increasing in popularity before all the recent workforce changes due to COVID. But, with more and more people working from home, virtual meetings are now the new norm.
The problem is, hosting a virtual meeting is not the same as hosting a face to face in your office or boardroom. And, if done incorrectly, can end up being frustrating and potentially a waste of time for all of those involved.
To help you on your way to host or chair a more productive virtual meeting, consider these 4 factors.
- Choose The Right Technology
Before hosting a virtual meeting or conference, you need to know what you will be sharing and who you will be sharing it with. This will allow you to select the right software to host your meeting.
Will everybody be on video chat or will some be calling in? Will you need to share your screen? Will others have to share theirs? Do you need to be able to record the meeting or present it live?
All of these are decisions you need to make.
Once you figure out what you need, opt for a ‘less is more’ strategy. The fewer bells and whistles there are, the easier it will be for your team to quickly adopt. Look for a platform that has just the tools you require. Great options include Zoom, Pexip, Microsoft Teams, and Slack depending on your needs.
- Be Prepared
When you host an internal meeting at the office, they tend to be more casual. Especially when it comes to weekly catch-ups or brainstorming sessions. We often opt to throw away the formal agenda and rely on our notebooks.
Not to mention, when you are in the office it is a lot easier to just go to someone’s desk to run something by them as opposed to setting up a scheduled face to face.
That just is not possible right now. Now, for even the smallest updates, a lot of professionals are turning to virtual meetings.
That means that taking the time to send out an agenda, forward assets ahead of the meeting and have everything pulled up and ready to go before your meeting begins can be the difference between a successful meeting and an unsuccessful one.
Another important part of planning ahead is ensuring that everyone who is supposed to be attending has been invited properly and that the login information is easily accessible for everyone. The good news is, many virtual meeting applications allow you to set up the meeting in advance which means you can send out the necessary URLs and connection details in advance. We recommend sending it out at least one day in advance and attaching it to the meeting invite.
- Stay Focused
There are many distractions when it comes to online meetings.
- It is harder to know who is about to start talking
- Varying internet speeds can create delays or result in people unintentionally speaking over each other
- Some people don’t have a designated office so you can hear what is happening in their space while you are trying to speak
One way to avoid some of these distractions is to mute all the attendees but the host, and ask that people send their questions and comments through the built-in chat. If it is a large meeting with many attendees, consider having a moderator who can scan the chat while you present, and interject when there is something to address urgently.
If you don’t like the idea of only letting attendees have access to chat for their questions and comments, you can ask those with background noise to mute their mics and only use them when they need to speak. For questions or comments, have the attendees say “Question” and then wait a few seconds before continuing. This will give the speaker a chance to stop talking and allow for any delay’s others may be experiencing.
You also want to remember to give the attendees a break if the meeting is more than 30 minutes long. Let them get up, stretch their legs and refill their water glass. This will help keep their minds fresh and on topic.
- Use Virtual Meeting Etiquette
Some rules apply to all meetings, regardless of whether they are in person or virtual: don’t eat during a presentation, turn off your phone ringers, give whoever is speaking your full attention, don’t surf the web. But, virtual meetings also have their own sets of rules and etiquettes to consider.
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Avoid excessive body movement – it can lower the video quality and create delays
- Maintain eye contact by looking at the camera
- Wear attire that is appropriate for the meeting
- Avoid background noise and distracting sounds like pen clicking (modern mics can be overly sensitive to sound)
- Try not to interrupt other speakers (raising your hand in a video chat or saying “comment” before diving into your thoughts can be effective)
- Don’t have side conversations with other people in the chat or in your own space
- Maintain a regular speaking level unless asked to raise or lower your voice
By taking the time to choose the best conferencing technology for your meeting, preparing in advance, and having your team stay focused with good adherence to etiquette, you will set your team up for more productive virtual meetings that take less time out of your busy days.
For more information on remote working technology and solutions, contact us today.