Making the Most of Virtual Meetings
When conducting virtual meetings whilst working remotely you should pay attention to the following areas:
- During the meeting
- Meeting follow-up
Before the meeting, you should assign a chair. To begin with, this should be the manager, but once everyone is comfortable with the technology, this responsibility can move to a team member.
Always be respectful of other people’s time. Ask yourself, Who really needs to attend? Why is this the best time to involve them? And, who simply needs to be informed with the outcomes? Test and familiarise yourself with the technology prior to the meeting so you feel comfortable and confident. Assign someone to capture real-time feedback and decisions so you may concentrate on the discussions at hand.
If you don’t feel like attending because the meeting is not a good use of your time, ask the chair why you have been invited. They will likely have a specific reason for inviting you.
Prior to the meeting, participants should read the agenda and come prepared with anything that has been requested.
Do your best to be in a quiet space that is free from unnecessary noise and distractions. Make sure your face is visible. Virtual meetings are more effective when participants can see each other’s facial expressions and body language.
During the Virtual Meeting
At the start of the meeting, the chair should ask participants to identify themselves. Spend a few minutes having friendly interaction before diving into a meeting itself. Starting with some ‘social chitchat’ will help keep the team reconnected and be more engaged.
Remind participants of the main goal of the meeting. Perhaps consider using the online ‘note board’ for discussion points and decisions made.
Try to keep any presentations short and concise. Background information should be provided beforehand. Give everyone a chance to contribute; virtually ‘go around the table’ before a decision is finalised.
Don’t be afraid to tackle tough issues. It is natural to want to wait to discuss tough issues in person, but that may not be an option.
Participants should always be on time and sign in a few minutes before the meeting begins.
They should respect each other by fully concentrating on the discussion at hand; Turn off notifications, put your phone on silent, and close down any work open on your screen unless it is needed for the meeting. Mute yourself when others are talking to avoid interrupting them. If you are unsure ‘when’ is the right time to speak, try using the ‘hands up’ button. This will indicate to the chair you have something to add.
Most importantly, fully participate and feed into discussions.
For a meeting to be truly effective, every participant needs clear direction and objectives. The key things for the chair to communicate post-meeting are:
- A summary of updates on projects/tasks.
- Any decisions made during the meeting.
- Who is responsible/involved for each new task/project, with timelines.
- How task/projects are going to be tracked and communicated moving forward.
- The date of the next meeting or check-in.