Over six million people work remotely in just the U.S. alone. As more and more employees are offered flexible work options and remote teams increase, gone will be the days when everyone is sitting in the same room, in the same time zone. With a little technology (webcam, mobile phone, computer, headphones) and a bit of advanced preparation, you can run an effective virtual meeting. Here’s how:
Prepare and Have a Plan B
There’s some fantastic technology out there for effective virtual meetings, yes. But smooth out any operator-errors and glitches by sending out call-in codes, URLs, presentation materials, agendas, etc. in advance. Give meeting attendees at least a day to have them so they have time to contact you in a mad rush if something isn’t working or is missing.
Also remember that whenever there’s technology involved, no matter how well you plan, and practice, and test, it’s sure to conk out. Everyone on the call has had the same thing happen to them, too, and will surely understand. Still, bring your sense of humor along with your Plan B.
May I Present…
If you’re using a visual meeting tool like Skype for Business, you’ll be able to see everyone’s avatar. When they speak, S4B highlights that person so you’ll know who it is. But not every virtual meeting tool is created equal. Don’t forget to take the time to announce yourself on the call, or take the time to introduce meeting participants. The whole point of a meeting is to get people together for information or take action – so make sure everyone knows who is who.
Reschedule If Necessary and Look Them in the Eye
For online participants: It is pretty cool that you can work from a coffee shop or the airport. But try not to take your meetings there. No one wants to hear the coffee grinder in the background, and everyone knows that when you’re trying to catch that flight, your head isn’t really in the game. Plan accordingly – schedule your meetings for days you’ll be in the home office and ask to bump the meeting when you’re not about to get patted down by airport security.
For in-person participants: As you’re sitting in that meeting room, huddled next to your coworkers, watching a video or going through a presentation, remember that your online counterparts can’t always see or hear you. So be mindful about where cameras, microphones and speakers are and involve everyone the best you can. Speak loudly and clearly – and while it might feel strange, make eye contact with those cameras and build report.
Other Quick Tips:
- Use a time zone converter before you book meetings. Be as fair as you can to your online participants.
- Start your meetings promptly and end them when you said you would.
- Let your online participants speak first, then open the discussion to in-person participants.
So here’s to your next great effective virtual meeting!
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