The new work environment has embraced the idea of telecommuting and working with employees scattered across the country, possibly even across the globe. That being said, there’s still the need for everyone to come together to touch bases, ensure goals are being met and make sure everything’s going according to schedule. Virtual meetings and teleconferences are great tools for face-to-face communication without actually being face-to-face, but you’ll want to get the absolute most from your meetings to make them truly effective for everyone involved.
Proper Preparation Makes Perfect
Just because everyone isn’t gathered together doesn’t mean you should run a virtual meeting any different than you would a traditional meeting. Make sure everyone has a time where they can sit down and attend the meeting no matter where they are. To make this step easier, it’s a good idea to start planning virtual meetings weeks in advance. That may seem like overkill now, but you and everyone else will be glad for the extra time.
You’ll also want to limit your meeting to no more than 10 people, just to keep things manageable. About a week before the meeting is when you’ll want to reach out to everyone to see if there’s anything you need to add to the agenda. Be sure you also send out all necessary materials and documents at least two or three days before the meeting in order that everyone has a chance to look over them.
In regards to the equipment you’ll be using for the meeting, be it telephones or video conferencing equipment, be sure to test it a few days before the meeting and ensure everyone is familiar with the technology on their ends. When it comes time for actual virtual meetings, make sure they don’t go on too long, otherwise the attention of your participants might start to drift.
Encourage Collaborative Problem Solving
If anyone brings up a problem during the meeting, or if there’s one on the agenda, take steps to get everyone involved in developing a solution. This helps to keep all of your participants engaged, and you get a chance to attack the problem from a variety of angles, making everyone feel as if they are truly contributing not only to the meeting, but to the company as well. Another great thing about this approach to virtual meetings is that it provides employees and managers with multiple sources of advice, which could prove pivotal in the future of your business. See how a virtual meeting is a great way to accomplish several goals at the same time
Whoever calls the meeting should act as the designed moderator. What this means is you have one individual who makes sure the meeting stays on track, leads the discussion and asks specific participants for their input. If you’re holding a meeting over the phone, it’s a good idea for participants to announce themselves before they speak in order that everyone knows who’s talking. This is something that often goes overlooked and can lead to confusion if not remedied.
One more thing to bear in mind with virtual meetings is that everyone should be prepared for lulls in the flow of conversation. These silences can be misconstrued as a person has finished speaking or making his or her point. The reality is the individual might be gathering his or her thoughts, which is often easier to determine by looking at a person’s facial expression. Those cues are absent in meetings held over the phone, so make sure individuals are done making their points before moving on to the next topic.
Because everyone might not be visible during virtual meetings, there is sometimes a tendency to want to multitask and only partially engage in the event. While you might think there’s no harm in sending a quick email or text while someone else is speaking, there’s a good chance of missing something even if you think you’re giving the meeting a majority of your attention. This is easier with a video meeting in which everyone is visible, but you can discourage this during phone meetings by calling on random participants for their opinions. No one likes being caught off guard. Something else you can do is give everyone a task during the meeting, such as keeping minutes, taking notes and crossing off topics as they are discussed.
For more tips on getting the most out of any meeting and molding a better business, be sure to explore more of the expert tools and articles found right here on Mighty Recruiter.