For most companies – even remote ones – meetings are a core part of your employees’ everyday lives. As more companies transition to fully remote teams, how can organizations transform their traditional office habits to make their virtual meetings more effective?
How do you ensure that everyone in your company is feeling heard and appreciated, especially when it’s easy to be spoken over or accidentally ignored (were you on mute this whole time?).
Successful virtual meetings might feel a tad more challenging than in-person ones. But with a little extra thought and love, your virtual meetings can be just as effective or even way better!
Here are tips from the most productive remote companies to help you have better virtual meetings.
Set an agenda and objectives ahead of time
Your team is more likely to stay engaged and be productive if they feel like their time is being valued. To make sure everyone is getting the most out of the meeting, set an agenda and objective ahead of time to help you stay on track. While it might feel tempting to dive right into it, don’t just YOLO it. Take the time to prepare yourself and your team so they know what to expect.
Do you really need that meeting?
Meetings can be a great opportunity for your organization to collaborate, but before hitting send on that invite ask yourself if it’s really necessary. You don’t want to be the team that hosts those meetings – you know, the ones that could have been an email. If you take the time to do the prep work, like setting an agenda and a meeting goal, you’ll likely catch those soul-sucking meetings from the get-go.
If you’re missing that human connection or feel your team needs some extra bonding, set up a virtual get-together with your team instead. Meetings don’t have to just be about work.
Open with warm-up
With most people working by themselves from their homes, logging onto a screen full of faces can feel overwhelming and impersonal – especially when someone new has just joined your team. Starting a meeting off on the right foot is crucial to building connections within your organization.
Make sure to acknowledge your team from the start, so everyone on the team feels like they’re welcome and a part of the conversation. This can be as simple as a greeting or even a short personal catchup to help everyone feel more comfortable.
This is particularly important with cross-team meetings where not everyone might be familiar with each other.
Set virtual ground rules and best practices
While virtual meetings have their perks, it’s definitely possible to miss our in-person social cues to help steer the conversation. We often find ourselves accidentally interrupting each other in virtual settings or awkwardly filling dead air. The truth is, effective communication requires a bit more structure and care online.
An agenda can help keep the conversation going, but setting virtual ground rules or adopting good virtual meeting etiquette can help everyone stay on the same page. For example, you might determine that the host chooses the order in which people speak, or maybe everyone agrees to stay muted or off-stage until called upon. The rules should be contextual to fit the type of meeting or event you’re running!
It’s important that your processes allow everyone to participate and contribute. These ground rules may vary from meeting to meeting but can help ensure each one stays productive in a virtual setting.
Assign key roles
Depending on the goal of your virtual meeting, different individuals can take on different roles. Do you need a dedicated notetaker? What about a moderator or timekeeper? Who is accountable for the outcome of the meeting?
Determine these key roles from the outset so everyone knows what is expected from them.
Right place, right time
Choosing the right technology is critical. Just like you can’t squeeze 3000 people into a 10 person meeting room, certain platforms might better suit your needs depending on the number of attendees or the goal of the meeting.
For example, Zoom or Meet might be a great option for a smaller meeting, but a platform like Venue might be better when it comes to supporting key moments in your business, like town halls or all-hands meetings. Make sure the technology you’re using has the tools that support what you need to keep your team engaged.
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Put a bow on it
If you’re the host, you’re responsible for tying up any loose ends at the end of the call. Do I wave? Do I keep smiling? Ending virtual meetings can be very awkward. It’s important to end a meeting just as positively as it started, and leave your attendees feeling great. How a meeting ends sets the tone for everything that follows. Just like a gift, it’s not quite complete without that bow on top.
You can also get creative and end your meetings on a more fun note, like wrapping up with a poll or an open Q&A. Even if your meeting or event wasn’t overwhelmingly positive, everyone will feel more confident and empowered if they’ve left an engaging session.
End on time (or earlier)
Repeat after us: a meeting doesn’t need to go longer than necessary.
It might feel more productive to go longer than planned or even fill up the remaining meeting time if you finish up early, but we promise it isn’t. Chances are, your team likely has other things scheduled or would appreciate the time back in their day.
There’s also no need to rush to wrap up in the last 60 seconds. If you haven’t quite met your goals at the end of the scheduled time, that’s fine – you can always pick those threads up next time. Consider it an opportunity to revisit your objectives and revamp your game plan for the next one.
Send a recap
Sometimes things get missed in meetings, especially in a virtual world – it’s normal and okay! If your meeting was long or covered many topics, consider sending a recap with the deck or a summary. If there were action items, include those as well!
Sending out a recap via email or Slack makes the next steps clear and gives everyone an opportunity to ask questions if necessary. Plus, you’ll easily be able to review the outcomes of the meeting if you need to in the future.
Meetings don’t have to be stuffy and dull. In fact, in a virtual world, they shouldn’t be. Treat your meetings like an opportunity to build team engagement and culture. If every meeting is overwhelmingly zoned into numbers or performance, they’ll start to feel like a chore – instead, use tools (like Venue’s Networking feature) to build connections at a human level.
Consider meetings as an opportunity to create real connections and celebrate the important moments in your organization. Building a sense of community across teams will not only foster better company culture but improve overall team productivity.
Virtual meetings can be productive
In fact, you’ll likely find them more productive than traditional meetings. Successful virtual meetings require a bit more effort and thought than in-person meetings, but with the right tools and best practices, you’ll be running engaging, fun and memorable meetings in no time.