These days, you don’t have to be in the same room or under the same roof to be privy to the latest updates in your team or your company. That’s the wonder of technology for you. One video call and you’re all caught up in the latest happenings in the office even though you may be hundreds of miles away. You can even show a house or assist someone with their shopping just by using your phone.
Effective virtual meetings do a lot in bridging the gap for members of staff who are working remotely and even for clients or customers who need to be reassured with a friendly face from your company’s customer service or sales team. Whether you’re taking a meeting from your kitchen or bedroom, it’s important to keep in mind, however, that it’s still a business meeting and business meetings require preparation, forethought. We’ve put together 8 tips for effective virtual meetings and they’re all applicable whether you’re an attendee or presenter.
Virtual meetings often come with a set of rules that you need to abide by, regardless if you’re attending or presiding. Some of these rules are unspoken mainly because they’re rooted in a sense of respect for your coworkers and others are unspoken. Conducting effective virtual meetings rely on how well these rules – both spoken and unspoken – are followed.
Before getting started, it’s important to check with colleagues if they need anything or if they have any questions prior to the meeting. Make this part of your actual prep well before the scheduled meeting. This clears the air of any confusion and rids everyone of unnecessary anxiety. To help out, we will start with the things to do on how to effectively lead virtual team meetings (and, of course, attend).
It’s always a good thing to get everything prepped, ready, and tested before attending or running a virtual meeting. You can‘t just show up. Especially if you’re working remotely, you need to allot more time to make sure everything is working properly and you’re ready for the event ahead. A few things to prioritize when you’re getting everything organized for your meeting:
● Tools – Test your webcam and microphone to make sure everything is working, as it should, and not lagging. Give the application or software you’ve chosen a trial run as well. It would also be best to make sure your lighting is just right and that your background is not unsightly.
● Agenda – Conducting effective virtual meetings include allowing everyone else in attendance to prepare beforehand. Making sure everyone is equipped with the meeting agenda is a great way to make sure everyone’s concerns will be heard and every attendee will get their turn to speak.
● Schedule and attendance – Send out meeting invites well beforehand so everyone can clear their calendars on the day itself. If you’ve been invited and won’t be able to make it, give the presenter the courtesy of letting them know.
Virtual meeting tools like Bitrix24 allow for calls to be recorded, including video, which is a great way of ensuring that no part of the conversation is lost. These recordings can either be saved online and shared with everyone who was part of the meeting to remind them of everything that was discussed. You can go as far as transcribing everything that was discussed and mentioned, to further ensure utmost clarity and understanding.
If you do not have such luxuries or if someone in the meeting is not comfortable with the idea of being recorded, you can take meeting notes or assign someone to do the job while the meeting is underway. Meeting notes can do wonders in effective communication in virtual meetings and can be a lifesaver if you need to go back to what was agreed upon when it comes to projects or company policies.
You may be at home but keep in mind, the meeting is a professional endeavor and should be treated as such. For both attendee and presenter, it’s always a good tip to keep in mind to be professional and courteous at all times. Introduce yourself; say “please” and “thank you” when necessary, thank everyone for coming, exchange pleasantries, and maintain eye contact.
Remember that you’re in a meeting with your peers and if you want to be treated with respect, you have to afford them the same. Even when the conversation gets a little heated or difficult, keep in mind that it’s still work and part of running effective virtual meetings to always stay professional and courteous towards everyone.
Effective virtual meeting tips include engaging everyone in attendance to keep the meeting lively, nicely paced, and productive. Make sure everyone gets a turn to speak their minds and provide input on the topic being discussed. If there is a disagreement, encourage a discussion and listen to both sides, taking note of their talking points.
If you’re an attendee, don’t hog the microphone. Even when you know you have a point to make, be sure to get to it as quickly as you can so everyone else can put their two cents in. Don’t interrupt whoever is speaking or speak over them. You might think it’s common sense but you will be surprised by how heightened emotions can make you forget the simplest things.
Effective virtual meetings dictate that you pay close attention to etiquette. Whether you’re a confident speaker who thrives in social settings and gets along with everyone or the shy, wallpaper type who tends to just nod along, observance of this list of tips is key in conducting effective virtual meetings.
Not only can they be embarrassing and considered faux pas but these virtual meetings don’ts can put you in a bad light. Make sure you’re camera ready and present yourself in a professional manner even in your pajama bottoms by keeping away from these do nots:
The key to understanding how rude this might make you look is to picture yourself in a boardroom with all the other attendees and the presenter along with your bosses. Imagine how you would come across if you were doing something else or talking to another person while the meeting is ongoing. You run the risk of disrupting the proceedings so when you know you have an upcoming virtual meeting, make sure you block the time for it.
For a presenter, nothing can be more embarrassing than when you’re sharing your screen with the team and something unrelated pops up on your screen for all and sundry to see. You might find such mistakes funny but in a professional setting, they make you seem unprepared, unfocused, and laughable. When you’re in a meeting, albeit virtual, make yourself free to listen and watch everyone and everything, be present, and absorb as much as you can. Devote your attention and time to the meeting.
Virtual meetings are a great way to still see each other although you’re not in the same place, catching up on the latest happenings both at work and at home. However, keep in mind that there’s always time for pleasantries and jokes here and there but for the majority of the meeting, keep yourself focused on the matter in hand.
Shut out all distractions, literally and figuratively, if you want to enjoy effective virtual meetings. It’s okay to lose your composure and give in to the compunction of a joke and giggles but rein the conversation back in and stick to the purpose of the meeting. When someone is speaking, let them finish what they’re saying and get their thoughts out properly so you’re able to see all sides of the discussion. You can always talk as friends afterwards.
Conducting effective virtual meetings entail being heard clearly and properly so the message is never lost. Make sure that your connection is stable so your line isn’t choppy and that your mic is working properly all throughout. Other than these things, while in the actual meeting, keep your tone steady, neutral, even, to avoid misinterpretations or misunderstandings.
Even if the meeting becomes more serious and you can feel the tension rising, keep your voice on an even level and bring everyone back to the matter you’re currently discussing. Part of how to effectively lead virtual team meetings is knowing how to take the lead just by using a calm tone of voice and a clear manner of speaking.
The purpose of virtual meetings is to be able to have the atmosphere of an actual face-to-face meeting even when you can’t all be in the same place. This makes visibility important so be sure, even before the meeting starts, that your camera is working and that it’s on and stays on all throughout the meeting. Don’t turn it off unless you absolutely have to and even then, be sure to get the permission of the facilitator beforehand.
The same goes with the microphone. If you’re in the boardroom and you mumble or speak under your breath, you can come across as rude or disruptive. Stay on camera at all times and keep your mic muted when it’s not your turn to speak. While someone’s presenting or speaking, watch closely and use visual cues to show that you are indeed listening and paying attention.
These days, there’s no such thing as distance. If you want to roll out improvement plans to take your company to greater heights, you can get the team together and start conducting effective virtual meetings. The rules to follow and common etiquette for effective virtual meetings do not differ so much from those for face-to-face meetings. They just need to be recalled a little more.
Most of all, make sure that everyone from facilitator to attendee walks away from the meeting sure of the company’s goals, plan of action, and their role in the grand scheme of things. The main cusp of running effective virtual meetings and the hallmark for success is when the bigger picture is clearly visible to everyone in your team, no matter where they are in the world.