In this modern day and world, with the development of information and communication technologies, virtual meetings are on the rise. Especially in the last two years, since the pandemic occurred and gatherings have not been allowed, modern technology has come into focus. Majority of businesses shifted from working in the office to working from home, and this transition from in person to virtual environments required some adjustments.
With its purpose being the realization of set plans and goals, communication is the essence of any organization. But it has greatly advanced over time and nowadays it includes more modern technology. This is why it is very important that the organization and its employees are ready to accept all changes and adapt as quickly as possible to the new situation and start practicing this way of workplace communication.
What Are Virtual Meetings
A virtual meeting is a tool that combines video, audio, computer and other communication technologies into one. It allows you to share a variety of content, from information, data, documents, images and presentations. And it also allows people to communicate from anywhere in the world in real-time.
Advantages of virtual meetings are that the small talk is reduced to a minimum, no time or money is spent on arrivals and departures to and from the meeting, meetings are more concise, more concrete and more efficient because time is better used.
However, for some people, virtual meetings can be challenging. Here are the 7 tips on how to host more productive virtual meetings in order to create a collaborative and productive work environment in these so-called hybrid workplaces.
Organize Your Virtual Meetings Well
To run any meeting, and especially a virtual one, it is important to plan it out well. It is best to have it organized and led by the head of the company, because somebody else might not do it the way you wanted, even though you explained it well.
For the meeting to be productive, there needs to be one main goal. Before the meeting, create an agenda to keep the focus on the topic. Format an email and send out a calendar with the invitation well in advance, so that the participants can get familiar with the topics and prepare questions.
Your virtual meeting agenda should include the following:
- Main topics, time-framed
- A list of the teams or speakers that will lead some topics
- Relevant resources, including slides, documents, and diagrams
- Short breaks if the meeting is going to last for several hours.
Get Prepared for the Meeting
While setting your virtual meeting goals, plan out what you want to achieve, what you need from the participants, and what the next steps would be. If you are going to hold a speech, you can prepare an outline so you don’t forget to mention something important.
Place all the necessary materials in one specific folder so you can find them fast. If necessary, prepare a white board and markers and make sure it is visible on camera. Your wall in the background should be in neutral colors so it doesn’t distract others. You can also use some of the video Zoom backgrounds to make it look more professional.
Sound for the meeting is also important. If your room is empty and uncluttered, this can result in a hollow sound that could be fuzzy. It is always advisable to wear noise-cancelling headphones, so your interlocutors can understand you better.
Use the Right Tools and Apps
You might be sharing your presentation for most of your meeting, but it is still important that the participants see you clearly. So, besides quality headphones and a mic, it is important to have a good quality web camera and fast Internet connection. Lighting can also play a huge role, so always make sure to face a natural light source.
Since virtual meetings depend on the internet and communication technology, it is important to provide the right tools that will fulfill your needs. There are Zoom and Skype as the best-known apps for organizing group calls, as well as some newer ones like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and many others.
If for instance you're hosting an onboarding meeting a good idea would be to first get to know your teammates better. You can use a free background check tool to get a feel for the personalities of your new teammates before meeting them. This will lay a foundation and contribute to a smooth and efficient communication between you and teammates from the start.
In some situations not all team members are able to attend the meetings, especially if your staff is spread all around the world. In that case, consider the possibility of recording the meeting. This way, team members who haven’t been present at the meeting can watch it later and get informed about what was discussed.
Engage All the Participants of the Virtual Meeting
Depending on the personalities of the participants, virtual meetings can range from those in which everyone speaks at the same time, to those with long pauses when someone stops speaking. To prevent this from happening, ask questions specifically to other meeting participants and make sure that everyone has shared their insights.
By directing the conversation, you will use the time of the meeting in the best way and allow everyone to say what they have. You can instruct them to turn off their microphones while someone is speaking and raise a hand when they have something to say.
Give your best to make a meeting interactive. Great energy will engage the audience and keep their attention. When everyone is focused on the meeting, you will quickly move from point to point and cover more material in less time.
Make Time for Casual Chat
In the shared work facilities colleagues have an unlimited number of opportunities to chat casually about topics other than work-related. These informal conversations play an essential role in building interpersonal relationships and trust between co-workers, and even increasing productivity.
You can start a meeting with 5 to 10 minutes of casual conversation. Even though you regularly have meetings and your employees know each other well, a couple of minutes of a friendly chat can break the ice and create the mood for a productive meeting.
Alternatively, each session could begin with a short presentation in which a team member shares something with the group about their culture, or how they spent the last weeked. It helps create a positive workplace environment and boost engagement, which is especially needed in remote teams.
Pay Attention to Your Attire
Since work has transitioned to our homes, people got used to working in pajamas or tracksuits. However, it is still important to follow the dress code for the business meeting even though it is held online.
You can dress more casually when meeting a small circle of your team members. However, meetings of the whole company are more formal so it is necessary to look professional. It shows respect to your colleagues and good etiquette.
When it comes to meetings with clients, especially new or future ones, along with the agenda and material, state which dress code is required so all the participants can show up dressed properly.
Send a Follow-up after the Meeting
When the virtual meeting is over, send a short resume to remind the participants of what was discussed in the meeting and the agreed actions to be taken. This contributes to the efficiency of the meeting and strengthens the importance of the remote meeting for team members.
In order for your employees to read it, it is important that your follow-up message is short and clear, with small comments or bolded parts that you want to emphasize. The most important things to include are the next steps, expected deliverables and laying out a clear understanding of who’s responsible, due date for the actions to be taken, and a date for a future check-in. You can also share a Zoom recording of the meeting, as well as share files, to those who weren’t able to attend it.
The biggest challenge of organizing a remote meeting is to keep people focused and interested. If you haven’t worked this way before, it may seem a bit complicated, but there’s no reason to worry. Explore the opportunities that are offered, get inspired by existing examples of good practice and look at everything as a challenge to help you improve your work.
There has been a lot of talk about digital transformation, including the digital transformation of the business sector, so why not use this opportunity to finally bring it about?
About the author:
Nina Petrov is a content marketing specialist, passionate about graphic design, content marketing, and the new generation of green and social businesses. She starts the day scrolling her digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. Her white little bunny tends to reply to your emails when she is on vacation. Feel free to contact her on LinkedIn.
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