We’ve Been Forced To Change, So Let’s Change For The Better
With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the world has had to respond with swift dramatic measures.
And for most businesses, this is a big shift.
Virtual meetings are becoming the norm (and may stay that way in future) so knowing how to lead them successfully is a vital skill that’s worth honing.
We’re here to show you how.
Preparation Wins Every Time
First, Figure Out The Tech
It’s important to use the right platform for your virtual meeting. Do you need to record sessions for notes or training purposes? Will you need to be able to manage a large number of people at once?
From newer platforms like Zoom and Gotomeeting to more familiar like Skype, list your needs and see which one fits best. Then as the organizer, you need to make sure that you can be seen, heard, and know how to use the platform.
Pro tip: Set up a test call with a colleague, run through all the features, and make adjustments.
You can’t help it if others on your team have poor audio or video. But it’s important that you set a good example to follow.
Send Out Key Information Ahead Of Time
A virtual meeting should be efficient and productive. If you have reports or documents that you want to discuss, make sure everyone has had an opportunity to read them first.
It saves having to read it all out and instead lets you jump straight into the discussion and Q&As.
People are more likely to be distracted in a virtual meeting so the more engaged everyone is the more you’ll get out of it. For the same reason, ask ahead of time if there are topics people would like to cover so you can set out an agenda to follow.
Lay Out The Ground Rules
A virtual meeting can run into a variety of issues. Unless you give specific instructions, your meeting could turn into this:
A: “Yeah so w-”
B: “I just think—oh sorry you go.”
A: “No it’s ok you go.”
?: random background noises
B: “I can go aft-”
C: “Wait, guys.”
B: “-fter. Oh yeah?”
C: “I was-”
A: “Yeah? Oh sorry, there was a delay.”
C: “I wasn’t finished yet.”
To avoid this, some of the best practices are as follows:
- 1Everyone should have their video turned on.
This makes it easier to see who is speaking as well as making the virtual meeting feel more personal. It’s always nicer to see everyone rather than hearing voices through a speaker. Also, people are more likely to pay attention if others can see them—and less likely to dial in from bed.
- 2Everyone should mute their audio unless speaking.
This avoids interruptions as well as annoying background noises like someone’s dog attacking the cooking pots. Many platforms make this easy with a radio-style ‘push-to-talk’ feature where you simply press and hold a key to talk. Over.
- 3Everyone should raise their hand to speak.
It feels like school, but it works for a virtual meeting. The person speaking can decide whether to let the person interject, or wait until they are finished. As the meeting organizer, it is your job to keep track and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
Include Time For Connection
Workplace friendships have been proven to increase both happiness and productivity1 so letting everyone feel valued and heard will make a huge difference while everyone is working remotely.
At the start of the virtual meeting, or the end, give time for each person to share news/updates about what is happening in their life. When the meeting is finished, leave the video call on in case people want to have a few minutes of “watercooler conversation”.
Be Ready To Adapt Your Virtual Meeting
The best meeting planners know that even with an agenda, conversations can start wandering into specifics the rest of the team don’t need to know about. Pay attention to when a conversation should be stopped and moved to a smaller meeting to keep things on track and save time.
You should also not try to force future meetings to follow the same format every time. The style, structure, and pace of the meeting should always remain flexible for each situation.
Continue to get feedback from everyone to see how your virtual meeting can be improved in the future.
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