Setting Up and Running Virtual Meetings
Posted on the 26 March 2020
As many people are now working from home, physical meetings are increasingly being replaced by virtual meetings. Running virtual meetings is not always easy as normal procedures are complicated by the lack of physical presence.
Businesses which embrace virtual meetings for the benefits rather than necessity are more likely to reap the rewards, such as building the most talented and creative teams and enabling flexible working for staff by reducing travel times. Furthermore, by implementing smart solutions, you can lead more meaningful and productive virtual meetings for your teams.
There are, however, some guidelines you should follow to ensure that your next virtual meeting is an efficient use of everyone’s time:
1. USE VIDEO
Audio-only meetings remove body language, which is used for memory building and social cues. It’s difficult to gauge how the meeting is going and whether participants are engaged, uninterested
2. KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
Keep your meetings between 15 – 45 minutes so everyone stays focused and makes optimum use of the time. If you can’t manage all the talking points within that time frame, then maybe more preparation is required before the meeting. Long meetings bore your team and waste their time. Short and sweet is the best recipe for increased productivity.
3. CREATE CLEAR MEETING OBJECTIVES
Coordinate the discussion based on the key topics, the bigger picture, or progress blockers. Remember that you are taking up everyone’s valuable time. Asking participants to stay and listen to minor issues that don’t affect them is not an efficient way to run a meeting. If there is something you need to discuss with one of your team members, and it does not concern the entire group, keep it short or schedule a separate meeting with that person.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE EVERYONE IN THE VIRTUAL ROOM
Even if you meet every week, it’s crucial that you, as a leader, acknowledge everyone who is present at the meeting. Be sure to take the time at the beginning of the meeting to introduce everyone on the call.
5. ASSIGN A FACILITATOR
It can be helpful to assign one individual to guide the conversation, allowing the other participants to focus on the content. The facilitator can also use a polling system to ‘take the pulse’ of the group on certain questions and ensure that all voices are heard. The facilitator should also be able to resolve basic questions on the technology being used.
6. SHARE THE MIC
Do not allow your meeting to be dominated by the more extrovert individuals, allow the quieter members of the team their screen time too. Their opinion might be the solution to the problem that your team is facing. Ask their opinion on specific tasks or projects, ask for quick updates, ask if they have anything to add or ask them if they need help with their workload, as they are more likely to respond to direct questions.
7. ALLOW SMALL TALK
Encourage small talk at appropriate times as research indicates that small talk creates lasting business connections and even makes us smarter.
8. REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE
Ask participants to mute their microphone if there is a distracting noise in the background, but to continue to participate with visual reactions, text or reaction icons where possible.
9. AGREE ON THE NEXT STEPS
Write down all action points, agreed deadlines and distributed tasks. Always reserve 5 – 10 minutes for wrapping up and confirming plans. Determine if and when a follow-up meeting should be planned.