Virtual meetings are having quite a moment! Not only are they a great way to stay connected and build team engagement in a remote environment, but they can be a more cost efficient and time effective option for getting people together for an event or big client meeting. While these are great potential benefits, participants often complain that they’re a poor experience—whether it’s because they are unproductive, boring, or disorganized.
However, with the right amount of preparation and planning, virtual meetings can be just as (if not more) beneficial as meeting in person! Here are six ways you can have successful virtual meetings with your colleagues:
Find a quiet spot
One way to ensure virtual meetings are more productive is to limit distractions. While it can be fun to have an interruption like a pet appearing on the screen or a family member accidentally walking in, these distractions can delay your meeting and get participants off-topic. To keep distractions to a minimum, find a quiet area to have your meeting and make it clear to anyone you live with or work near that you can’t be disturbed during the length of the meeting. If you are not speaking (or are the host), you should ask participants to utilize the mute button to cut down on other distracting background noises.
Make sure your technology is working
If your technology is on the fritz, it can delay your meeting and leave meeting attendees frustrated and disengaged. In advance of your virtual meetings, set time aside to ensure you have a strong internet connection, your microphone and camera are working properly, and the video conferencing platform you’re using is up-to-date. Knowing that everything you need is working properly ahead of time will leave you better prepared and less stressed once your meeting starts.
Encourage video participation
Most, if not all, video conferencing platforms have the option to keep your camera off during meetings. When appropriate, try to encourage participants to have their cameras on during virtual meetings. This should never be a requirement, but it can help keep everyone more focused and accountable. Plus, it can be nice to see everyone on video—especially if you are all working in different locations!
Set an agenda (and stick to it!)
Having an agenda will ensure people feel more prepared for the meeting and can help you keep it on track if things veer off-topic. When setting your agenda, be sure to outline what you’d like to cover and who you’d like to speak during each part. Once you’ve finalized it, send your agenda out to the meeting participants so they know what to expect from the meeting.
Unlike in-person meetings, it can be much easier to try and multitask in order to get other work done. While this may make you feel more productive, it can lead you to miss important moments during the meeting. Plus, it can be extremely obvious that you’re not paying attention, especially if you’re on camera. This can give off a vibe that you are not interested or do not respect your colleagues’ time. You wouldn’t do this during an in-person meeting, so try to avoid it during a virtual one!
Keep it short and limit participants
Strive to keep these meetings on the shorter and smaller side. It can be especially difficult to hold everyone’s attention during virtual meetings, especially when there is a large group of participants who want to chime in. To keep the meeting focused, only invite the people who truly need to be there and try to keep it less than 30 minutes.