Remote working was once a novelty enjoyed by only a select few. Yet, in a few short months, it has rapidly become the norm, with those employees that can, working from their makeshift home offices. As such, the days of the board room, where colleagues would gather around, a cup of coffee in hand, papers distributed, are well and truly over.
Going forward, virtual meetings are here to stay. But how can we make the most of them? With many getting to grips with the technology for the first time.
Here are nine top tips for better virtual meetings.
- Collaborative Agendas
Without an agenda, virtual meetings can quickly go off the rails. With people speaking over one another; points become lost in the noise. Confusion is rife. It is therefore vital to have a pre-prepared outline of the meeting. However, ask people beforehand what they would like to discuss, that way, a new suggestion doesn’t derail the agenda, and everyone can get what they need out of the meeting.
- State Your Aims
A useful way to begin a virtual conference call is to have everyone make a short statement regarding their aims for the meeting. It can be a valuable way of creating a set of goals and ensures everyone is on the same page. It puts the attendees in the driving seat while keeping to the agenda that was priorly laid out.
- Spark Engagement
If you’re hosting the meeting, invite participants to ask questions throughout. After a critical point is made, or section of the meeting concluded, ask if anyone has any thoughts or questions. If someone hasn’t said very much, then ask them a question by name: ‘Alison, you’re responsible for the design, how do you feel about the proposal?’
- Give the Meeting an End
Have you ever heard the phrase: necessity is the mother of invention? Put simply; when we’re constrained, we adapt to the situation and are forced to make decisions. Meetings that drag on with no clear end, lead to meandering discussions, better left to one-to-one chats. A deadline focuses the minds of the attendees and helps concentration. Try to keep meetings to an hour. If you require longer, split the agenda into two, and have two sessions.
- Break the Ice
With everyone reduced to a video feed on your screen, it can feel more than a little unnatural. As such, break the ice. Ask everyone to answer a question when they introduce themselves. Present an opening graphic or metric, and gather opinions. It gets the ball rolling, setting the tone for the rest of the conversation.
- Remember Etiquette
Adults aren’t the only ones working from home: many parents are juggling being an employee with being a teacher to their kids. Additionally, people may have restless pets they need to calm down. Interruptions are inevitable. Try to lay some ground rules, and avoid being judgemental.
Also, consider your body language: remember everyone can see you. If you are distracted, you will look distracted. So give the meeting your full attention; it’s only polite.
- Record the Meeting
Not everyone can attend every call. One of the few perks of virtual meetings is the ability to record the call for future reference. Perhaps it is a training session that may be useful for new starters. Either way, keep a record and save it in an easily accessible location.
- Play to The Strengths
With virtual meetings, users have access to an incredible array of features: screen sharing, virtual whiteboards, file sharing, and more. You also can employ virtual backgrounds. Head over to settings to centrally manage zoom virtual backgrounds – hello backgrounds also have a range of backdrops to choose from, including stylish offices, swanky apartments, and many more.
- Stay Focused
When working from home, there is all manner of distractions surrounding you: Instagram, texts, games. Turn off notifications and mute your phone. Don’t use the space below the camera’s vision to waste time on other things: stay focused on the meeting. You’ll be able to contribute more. Plus, no one wants to be vacantly nodding along in agreement, only to find themselves confronted with a difficult question. In the long run, you’ll wish you paid attention.