Ah, virtual meetings. They used to happen somewhat on occasion, maybe if you had to work from home one day when your kid was sick, or you were at the airport waiting for a flight. Now, in the wake of COVID-19, they’re happening (somewhat) all day, every day. This escalated rather quickly, didn’t it?
We had to go into a fast pivot in order to keep business moving forward in this time of remote work for the masses. This has caught many businesses, managers, and employees off guard, as the way we are now meeting may not be as conducive as face to face meetings. Right? But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We now have many tools and resources to assist with virtual meetings to help us move forward in the right direction, together. While it is a big change, and affects people differently, we can still make our meetings valuable and worth the time.
With that being said, there are some things to consider to help make virtual meetings successful, and not quite as painful for everyone involved.
Here are our 5 Tips on How to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting:
Explore the right technology for your needs.
There are a number of tools out there for online meetings, some of which you may already have access to use. The first thing you should do is think about how you meet now, and what your needs are.
- Is it frequent for people to share ideas visually, such as drawing on a white board in your office?
- Do your meetings frequently have a high head count in attendance?
- Will there need to be back and forth dialogues that happen rather quickly in conversation, or is it mostly one presenter with questions optional for the end of the discussion?
- And, will conversations be held with prospects outside of your company contact list?
There are many features out there that cater to all of these needs and more. If you’re just having quick team discussions with 7 people, you probably will not need the same tools as someone who needs to present to prospective customers. Make sure you do some research, and request demos and trial runs if possible.
Set up standards/expectations with your team.
If you are meeting with your own team members (or even with prospects and your team may be present), make sure you are all on the same page with what to expect. You should send an email in advance of the meetings to let people know what to expect.
General rules such as if you expect videos to be turned on, when chiming in is expected from the team, and even recommended dress code should be communicated way ahead of time. I would joke about the last part there, but we’ve seen way too many incidences online of cameras on, and pants off! While it may not be best to push people to formal attire, it’s okay to suggest “casual work dress” like jeans and a (clean) t-shirt are still acceptable, but maybe not pajamas…
Train your team.
Nothing is worse than learning a new technology on the fly, especially if it’s during a serious or formal meeting. It makes you seem disorganized and aloof, and can make a bad impression.
Give yourself (and especially your team) time to try out the agreed upon tools before those important meetings take place. Send your team materials beforehand to give them time to look around, and schedule a “trial run” to have everyone make sure they can log on appropriately, figure out voice and video controls, and make sure they have the internet bandwidth to support certain features. This will limit the amount of fumbling, and make people more comfortable with the tools they’re using, which will in turn save time, energy, and possibly embarrassment.
Give people time to prepare.
It is bad enough to be deep in focus at your desk in the workplace to have someone startle you with a question by popping by your cubicle. Best case scenario, it’s been scheduled, or you can see them approaching from twenty feet away. But working remotely, we don’t have that luxury.
We’re plugging away, and Bam! Your screen is ringing and someone may be expecting a video chat on the spot. In our current environment, this can be alarming and too much for some people to handle.
Keep in mind that home situations are not necessarily in line with the office environment, and that employees may be working in odd places, with people or pets around and may not be presentable at the moment. This doesn’t even consider that one kid may be having a tantrum because he can’t figure out his assignment, and the other kid or spouse may be using bandwidth for a video call themselves.
It’s not just courteous, but it’s also crucial to give as much warning as possible for group or video calls before springing it on your team in order to allow them to be present and productive for a successful call. Trust me, they will thank you!
Bring a positive energy.
Whether virtual calls are something that will continue for your business in the future or not, strive to make each call a positive experience, if possible. More than likely, there are already frustrations in place, as many employees long to be back in the office, or meeting face to face and struggle with remote work as it is.
Having too many negative experiences can drain them even further, and you need them operating to the best of their abilities. Try to be positive, understanding, and courteous as you navigate the new territory you find yourself in. It will be so much more appreciated!
Essentially, there may be bumps in the road, but you can successfully transition to virtual meetings with less impact than one would assume. Technology has come so far, even in the past few years, to make virtual meetings inclusive and collaborative.
Remember, do your research, prepare your team, and smile. Your virtual meeting awaits you!