With the help of technology, scheduling and organizing a virtual meeting today is easier than ever. Many companies had already implemented virtual meetings long before COVID-19 came into our lives because they’re quick to arrange, they’re relatively cheap and they bring the most relevant people into the meeting, wherever they’re based. However, there are many things that organizations need to take into consideration beforehand, in order to achieve maximum results without wasting their valuable time and resources.
As WFH (work from home) has become a daily routine for most of us, leaders and managers need to “meet” and connect with their employees or clients, in the same way, that they would have in a traditional office environment, in order to ensure that they are all working towards the same goals. Thankfully, fast-changing technology has provided many tools for running virtual meetings, but running one effectively requires some foresight.
Below are seven tips that you need to know:
Selecting the most suitable software to use is key so as to avoid any communication issues that are often caused by poor connections or equipment malfunctions. Review your meeting agenda and choose a platform that best meets the needs of that meeting. For instance, the platform required for a daily “check-in” can be very different from that needed for a brainstorming or decision-making session. So take time to evaluate each platform carefully before you decide which one to use.
A common issue facing many managers or leaders when scheduling meetings is having too many topics to discuss in one meeting. Due to the fact that colleagues and team members are not able to meet in person, too many subjects get bundled up together to be covered in one meeting, which is not a recommended practice for virtual meetings.
Try to narrow down each meeting to one specific purpose. What is the main objective? What do you want to accomplish in the meeting? What is the problem that needs to be solved? Of course, it can be very difficult to ensure that every meeting has one specific topic of discussion. However, limiting the meeting to as few topics as possible or arranging more frequent, shorter meetings will help to ensure that each topic receives the necessary attention, without overwhelming your team with too much information.
How many times have you been in meetings that could just as well have been covered by an email? While many remote employees want to stay up to date with the latest company news, they also don’t want their time wasted with irrelevant information. In addition, they can act as distractions during meetings, making the time even more unproductive for the rest of the group.
Keep your meetings between 15-45 minutes so everyone can stay fully focused. If you can’t manage to discuss all the talking points on your agenda, then a possible solution is to have short breaks of 5-10 minutes. Long meetings can easily bore your team and make them feel that their time is being wasted. Short and to-the-point is the best recipe for increased productivity.
Running an effective virtual meeting is all about communication, feedback and getting all parties involved in the discussion. If you want your employees or clients to digest the information that they are presented with, they have to be engaged with the discussions that take place. The effectiveness of each meeting often boils down to planning and preparation. Plan beforehand how you will facilitate engagement and give your team the chance to express their opinions; giving feedback is a defining factor of how well a meeting goes.
Just like traditional meetings, virtual meetings should also end with your audience being given the opportunity to ask their own questions and raise any concerns that they may have. You need to make sure that you create an environment where they feel comfortable speaking and sharing their thoughts. Additionally, a lively meeting that has kept your team on their toes until the very end, will most probably raise many questions and opinions about the subject. Give everyone the chance to participate and they will be more involved in future meetings as well.
All ending action points or the conclusion of the meeting must be written down, with specific deadlines agreed upon and tasks distributed amongst team members. Always create a 5-10 minutes space in your meetings for wrapping-up and work distribution. Also, determine if and when a follow-up meeting should be planned to stay organized.
Ask someone to take notes during the meeting and summarize the key points in written form to the rest of the team so everybody can be aligned, even if they missed something.
Undoubtedly, virtual and remote working has both its benefits and its restraints. Successful virtual meetings are by no means the only solution to the issues that a company is facing daily in response to COVID-19, but they can be vital for moving complex projects forward.
Use these 7 easy tips and you will enjoy the benefits of effective virtual meetings.