Virtual meetings can be more productive and entertaining than traditional face-to-face meetings if you conduct them right. Before the pandemic, remote companies were the only ones that experienced these. However, with the pandemic and social distancing requirements, teams had to work from home. In a blink of an eye, virtual meetings became the new reality. But, running a great virtual meeting isn’t that simple, and there are various steps and strategies to consider.
Remote meetings provide teams with regularity and communication. They allow people to share information, data, experiences, and ideas in real-time without a physical presence in the same room. They replace face-to-face meetings so employees leave commuting behind.
But, some people are newbies in the remote work world and have never practiced how to conduct virtual meetings. In many cases, employees assist virtual meetings because it's an obligation and not because they want to participate. Consequently, teams have lower productivity and motivation to talk during remote meetings.
What’s the Purpose of a Virtual Meeting?
Virtual meetings are essential for any remote team’s communication. It’s a real-time interaction between remote employees to talk about their workflow and set future goals. According to a study by Psychology Today, messaging platforms and emails aren’t enough since communication is 93% composed of nonverbal activities.
Luckily, virtual meetings are more accessible to set than in-person ones. To connect, it only takes you to have the necessary technology to connect, open your laptop, and click on the invite link. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will succeed. Running great virtual meetings can be challenging and sometimes even stressful. But there are several ways to keep everyone in tune.
Best Practices To Run Virtual Meetings
1. Create Virtual Meeting Guidelines
Creating a few specific rules to follow for all attendees would help them maintain processes and procedures. Work rules may sometimes sound negative for employees, but the aim would be to create organization and productivity.
As a leader, you could make a list of rules for virtual meetings on your own and then share them with your remote team members. They will understand the preparation and expected communication flow better before joining the discussion.
You could start by mentioning the priorities, like the tools and technologies employees should use to access these meetings, or provide them with the correct information and guidance to use this technology. Then you could go to more specific details, like finding a quiet place to connect, testing their technology in advance to avoid issues during the meeting, or placing themselves on mute while another team member is speaking.
2. Prepare An Agenda
Since you’ll be running the meeting, you’ll know what topics your team should discuss during the virtual encounter. Before the meeting, prepare a structure, and set the objectives, the blockers, and the challenges.
A well-prepared plan can help employees a lot. Prepare a list of topics or questions you’ll mention during the meeting. Prepare a second platform to use if anything goes wrong. And prepare all the documentation of your session before connecting.
You could also assign roles to help you organize the information better. Decide who will be taking notes, who’s the main speaker, and the screen sharer. Though these things can vary on the meeting, you could save a lot of time and trouble setting them previously.
3. Mind Your Manners
Manners are always necessary at the workplace - and everywhere you go. You may have forgotten about work manners during the intense months of quarantine. You woke up and connected to the virtual team meeting in your pajamas, having your morning coffee, hoping nobody realizes you’re only wearing a shirt to look serious.
But the truth is, you should always prepare yourself for virtual meetings. Not only to have a significant image of yourself with your team but also to help you start your day better. To help you become more productive and achieve superior results, you should behave responsibly with your remote job.
So, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and close irrelevant tabs. Try to avoid checking your phone or email and preferentially save questions for the end. You can also encourage your engagement by practicing proper virtual meeting etiquette.
4. Encourage Feedback
It’s so easy to open your laptop, click on a link, turn off the video, and pretend you’re attending a virtual meeting. However, that’s not the aim. Remote meetings’ purpose is for all members to participate and communicate with them easily on their projects and processes together—these meetings are based on mutual interaction.
Collect feedback from all members. Ask them how they feel about projects, and what new ideas they can propose. Some introverts might turn off their microphones and leave virtual meetings for those babblers to discuss. So, as a leader, you could integrate them by asking questions or particularly referring to them towards some topic you discuss.
But team encounters are all about constructive feedback between colleagues. Try to discuss how you can improve results and propose an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your decisions. Check on the tools you use to communicate, and how comfortable your attendees are with the systems.
Focus on improving the online conference experience for all employees. Ask yourself, what would you expect to experience as an attendee? If you consider all of these, running a great virtual meeting will be far easier than you thought.
5. Maintain Focus
The higher number of participants in a virtual meeting, the harder it will be to maintain focus. Remote teams grow, and conferences become overcrowded. Since the main goal is to increase productivity, participants start jumping from one topic to another, forgetting about relevant issues.
Losing focus in virtual meetings can make participants lose interest and start working on their tasks instead of participating in the conversation. So, to avoid such derailment, you could prevent non-topic meetings. Try to agree on the track of the conference before you meet with the other participants. Try to make everyone agree on the topics and aims before the meeting to avoid losing focus.
If you’ve set the meeting’s primary purpose, make sure you covered everything before moving on. Make sure attendees don’t have questions or anything new to mention. But, once you’ve covered everything necessary, don’t feel like you need to take the entire hour you’ve blocked off on the calendar. End the meeting once you’ve reached the goals, and leave those minutes left to grab a coffee or catch up on some tasks.
6. Review Your Next Steps
You’ve set the goals before the meeting. You had a tremendous and successful virtual meeting. Now it’s time to work on the plans. But there’s one problem. You seem to have forgotten most of the tasks assigned to you.
To run a successful virtual meeting; you should coordinate the following steps. Great virtual meetings must focus on moving forward and placing future processes. However, once the virtual meeting is coming to an end, almost every attendee is ready to press the “end meeting” button and leave.
So, you can round up the meeting by reviewing your achievements and next steps. Mention to your colleagues each future move and assign tasks, ensuring they’ve received the order. Agree on dates and determine them in your shared management tools.
You’ll start to see how productive and effective your virtual meetings can become when you end them with everyone in agreement on the next steps.
7. Encourage Your Team to Keep Improvement
Reaching great results on one virtual meeting you’ve run doesn’t mean you should relax and leave the organization adrift. There’ll be several virtual encounters during the year, so you better start training to run them daily.
Improvement is always possible. Find the pitfalls and challenges you and your remote team are facing, and try to solve them. Talk about these issues, develop new ideas, plan new strategies to understand the best virtual meeting for yourselves.
Work on the collected feedback and chart out the improvement areas. After the meeting is over, ask for everyone’s opinion on this and always analyze how you can improve your meetings.
Benefits of Virtual Meetings
If you run great virtual team meetings, these will provide you with countless opportunities. Whether it’s about engagement, communication across different locations, or other potential topics you may discuss with your team, remote conferences will always be an effective and low-priced option.
A rapid and effective virtual meeting can stimulate productivity and better output. Plus, employees are more motivated to reach the company’s goals.
Remote meetings are more effective. In an instant, you can click on a link and connect. Meanwhile, in-person meetings demand everyone’s commute to the office, a conference room to gather the team, and 10 minutes of greetings and informal conversations.
Instead, in virtual meetings, you set the plan, schedule future moves, discuss your time accordingly, and optimize your strategy to enhance productivity.
Virtual meetings can notably reduce a company’s tariff. With just a click, you can create a virtual room, share the link with your team, and conveniently connect all attendees to engage.
Furthermore, commuting can sometimes become a headache. You arrive at the office troubled by the traffic you’ve just been through and the terrible experience you just had going to work. And the truth is, operational and commuting costs usually become a problem to an organization’s monthly expenses.
So, virtual meetings would reduce costs for the company and yourself and prevent you from having several weekly hassles.
Remote meetings encourage constant team collaboration and explicit communication. Man is a creature of habit. So people will quickly learn to communicate directly with the person they need through video conferences.
Virtual meetings also encourage healthy workspaces. Working from home increases communication since it stimulates collaboration. So, when you run virtual meetings, you could remind your colleagues they can also chat and get to know each other through your communications tools - like Slack or ProofHub.
With virtual meetings, commuting is no longer an issue - neither living in different parts of the world - and you can reach out to your colleagues in different locations, developing clear virtual communication with them.
Furthermore, commuting's daily problems like finding parking spaces, massive car traffic, or stopping by a fuel station to load gasoline are no longer required. Instead, you can sleep a few hours more, prepare some coffee, and open your virtual meeting link while you watch the sunrise from your home office window.
Prepared To Run A Great Virtual Meeting?
Virtual meetings are an amazing process that every remote team should learn how to apply and maximize their work. Learning to conduct these will help you and your team improve your communication, increase mutual interaction, and connect from various worldwide locations.
As the world moves forward into a remote future, the need for home working tools will increase, and remote working practices will become more demanded each day. So, now it’s time for you to practice everything you don’t know!
Remember, any new skill set or organizational change needs time to develop. With these best practices in mind, you and your colleagues will find the way that works best for your virtual meetings, and through your daily routine, you’ll achieve fantastic results.