As Covid-19 sprawl is intensifying, more and more corporations are getting comfortable with the idea of their employees working remotely. Amazon has instructed its employees to work from home, while Twitter has resorted to making work from home mandatory. Similarly, most of the companies worldwide are following the suit.
The fact that business meetings will always remain a priority for any company cannot be denied. According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR), the top management spends around 75% of its time conducting a business meeting with various functional heads to review work updates progress.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, most companies prefer holding remote meetings concerning their employees’ safety.
Virtual business meetings prove to be more beneficial than face-to-face business meetings. Beyond the fact that it is the most cost-effective way to gather employees- think: modern technology with no unnecessary travel cost- they have become a perfect opportunity to create trust, reliability, engagement, and candor among the team members.
Fortunately, modern technology has enabled face-to-face meetings without a need to be together in a physical room. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, convened a videoconference meeting of European union leaders. Leo Varadkar, the president of Ireland, tweeted a picture from his meeting, picturing a large TV screen showing his other leaders’ live stream. Also, the Prime Minister of the U.K, Boris Johnson, has supported that Covid-19 is not a reason to delay any sort of Brexit talks between the EU and the U.K. He asserted that any negotiations could be achieved through video conference instead.
Those who are new to this paradigm shit below highlight a few tips on conducting a business meeting remotely, effectively, and productively.
- Work on the selection of online meeting tools
- Decide on the list of participants
- Turn the “video” feature on
- Appoint a moderator or a facilitator for the meeting
- Prepare the computer/equipment in advance
- Set the agenda for your meeting and stick to it
- Practice good videoconference etiquettes
- Make interesting introductions
- Discourage multi-tasking during the meeting
- Use a brainteaser or an ice-breaker
- Use appreciation and motivation as a reward
- Engage your participants and ask them to contribute
- Remind the participants regarding the goal of the meeting
- Split the Roles and let your people “rule” the meeting
- Never go on “mute.”
- Be courteous towards others
- Declare an open house
- Leave a vote of thanks
- Follow-up on minutes of the meeting
- Obtain valuable feedback
Before your remote business meeting
1- Work on selection of online meeting tools
An ideal online business meeting platform is a combination of connection, integration, and feedback. Maintaining these three essentials will not only engage your participants but will make your meeting more productive.
For instance, Miro, Google Solutions, such as Hangouts and Docs, are combining these essentials.
2- Decide on the list of participants
Determine the number of team members that are legitimately required to be present at the meeting. Try to limit the list of participants to the required people only. If you involve unnecessary people in the meeting, there is a possibility to lose track. You will not be able to focus on the topic.
“Two-pizza rule” has been adopted by Amazon. They say if you can not feed your entire team with pies, it means you have included too many of them. Google also limits its meetings to eight.
3- Turn the “video” feature on
Since all the team members are separated by distance, the use of video will make everyone feel as if they are sitting in the same meeting room. Video helps in getting familiar with the emotions and reactions of your team members. It HUMANIZES the meeting room.
Facial expressions are significant. Without a video, you can never get your employees interacting in the best way. With a video, you can feel their presence and observe their body movements.
4- Appoint a moderator or a facilitator for the meeting
Any business meeting devoid of a moderator will most likely go out of track. With the help of a moderator, you offer autonomy to the person to control the meeting proceedings in the best possible manner. Each team member will speak with the permission of the moderator. The moderator will also help in focusing on the topic.
5- Prepare the computer/equipment in advance
Each team member needs to start their computers at least 15 minutes before the meeting begins. Ensure the camera and the microphone are working correctly. Skype can be the best video calling service for one-to-one meetings. But, specialized applications such as Zoom meeting, Go-to-meeting, teams app are ideal for multiple participants.
These tools and apps impart a professional outlook to your virtual business meeting.
6- Set the agenda for your meeting and stick to it
If you plan to make your remote business meeting successful and productive, you need to have a blueprint for your meeting.
“The best remote virtual meetings have a set agenda in advance so that all the team members are well-versed with the schedule of the meeting,” says Galindo. “If your meeting lacks an agenda, then you need some time to figure out the goal of your meeting.”
For every virtual business meeting that you plan to hold, it’s imperative to create a clear and concise agenda, including:
- Major talking points
- Location and structure of the meeting (for example, the duration of each point that you will be discussing)
- Participants of the meeting
- Roles and responsibilities of the team members
- Any relevant files or documents to be ready before the meeting
- A person should be appointed to record the minutes of the meeting
7- Practice good video conference etiquettes
Make sure both your online profile photo and username are correct and accurate. Test the volume levels, camera, microphone, and other settings.
If you are sharing a screen, then you should close all the irrelevant tabs before the meeting.
During your remote business meeting
8- Make interesting introductions
The most important way to increase team engagement during a business meeting is for the meeting host to help the team members introduce themselves, specifically the importance of their role. This will set the tone for everyone attending the meeting. This is not possible in case there is an extensive list of participants.
9- Discourage multi-tasking
Multi-tasking was once considered as the best way to get multiple things completed simultaneously, but it is now understood to manage stuff in hand poorly. This is supplemented by science, showing us that despite the remarkable power and complexity of our brain, there are various bottlenecks in information processing when all the tasks are being performed simultaneously. Every manager’s role is to deem multi-tasking as unacceptable as all the team members must be attentive mentally.
10- Use a brainteaser or an ice-breaker
It is essential to reinforce interpersonal relationships because your team members are already isolated.
The challenge for the managers assisting their team in this new virtual space will be to instill morale and ensure productivity.
The manager should start with a team-building exercise before diving into the core of the business meeting. Managers can time the team to complete a puzzle or contest on who can create the most exciting object out of some bricks. An interactive light quiz could also help in breaking the ice between online meeting participants.
Another icebreaker could be to play a guessing game before your online meeting commences. The manager can ask each participant to describe an item near them briefly and have other team members guess the same.
11- Use appreciation and motivation as a reward
Even tiny successful acts should be motivated by the managers. Recently, a team at Gartner celebrated an achievement by organizing a virtual meeting where the manager got everyone on the call, distributed a Starbucks gift certificate to obtain their favorite drink, and a piece of light music was played on all to engage everyone. Isn’t it amazing?
12- Engage your participants and ask them to contribute
It is cumbersome to sit through a boring meeting. Asking for input helps the team members to get engaged.
Head of the user experience at The Mobile Majority, Michael Sueoka, says that it is your job to make every team member feel like they can contribute to the meeting. Get involved with everyone individually or ask them about their contributions specifically. So, here are a few examples of some engaging hooks.
- What is your favorite part of the meeting?
- What is that one thing that could enhance your experience and satisfaction with the project, and why?
- RICK LEPSINGER, President of OnPoint Consulting, supports that call them by name and ask a question- your aim is not to “catch” them, but to “engage” them.
13- Remind the participants regarding the goal of the meeting
If you are using an online collaboration whiteboard, it will be easy for you to put a sticker on it stating the meeting goal and what needs to be achieved at the end of the meeting.
14- Split the Roles and let your people “rule” the meeting
“Have your virtual team members “run” their meeting. Give a sense of responsibility to everyone, says the Co-Founder of Track meets, DARIN HERLE.
Change the roles of the recurring participants through a lottery system. This will help them to take control of the meeting and assist in participant engagement.
15- Never go on “mute.”
Every co-located meeting has social norms: You can not just get up and start walking around the room without paying any attention. Remote sessions follow the same path: You can’t just go on mute and leave the room as you please.
In a physical meeting, you will never dare to check out. Similarly, in a virtual meeting, you can not press the mute button and start making a phone call or start responding to your emails, killing creativity, laughter, and lively discussion.
As a leader, it is required of you to establish standards and good work ethics. Simply because you are in a virtual meeting set-up does not mean that you can be disrespectful. Such kind of behavior is unacceptable.
16- Be courteous towards others
Like back in school, someone whispering behind your back caused a lot of noise; similarly, distractions during the meeting leave members confused.
17- Declare an open house for discussions
You will observe that every dedicated time slot for questions and answers around at the meeting’s closing is more productive than interrupting and raising their hands during the meeting.
Leaving time for thoughtful questions will help you in clearing any discrepancies.
After your remote business meeting
18- Leave a vote of thanks
Make sure you thank everyone for attending the business meeting.
19- Follow-up with minutes of the meeting
Share minutes of the meeting as recorded by the person appointed at the beginning of the meeting.
Don’t forget- recording a virtual call is a useful online meeting feature. You can attach it with a mail as a reference for all the participants and the people who could not attend.
20- Obtain Valuable Feedback
Getting feedback on what was understood, what was accomplished, a comprehensive list of what should be done, and a blueprint for achieving the business goals are mandatory.
Communication is a vital part of a team holding a meeting remotely. Finally, your virtual business meeting will turn out to be a great success when you implement these tips and tricks! You can set an example of outstanding professionalism and trusted value with these useful business meeting tips.