5 ways to make virtual meetings as good as the real thing
These days, it’s increasingly difficult for companies to get all of their employees in the same building at one time, much less the same room.
Some companies are headquartered in one city, but have offices in others with a handful of employees or even ones who work from home. That’s why more companies are turning to virtual meetings. In fact, 32% of all meetings are conducted virtually.
There are obvious advantages to these types of meetings: They’re cost-effective, easy-to-use, and allow everyone to communicate from almost any location.
Still, it’s challenging to make meetings as engaging, efficient, and productive as the “real” thing. Here are five ways to jump-start your next virtual meeting:
1. Encourage interactivity.
One of the main drawbacks of virtual meetings is that you don’t always have that ease and familiarity with the coworkers in your office. But just because you’re not sitting in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t engage in office banter or small talk to make meetings more enjoyable.
Make your meetings as interactive as possible by doing something as small as starting the meeting by asking everyone how they’re doing (in their respective part of the world), calling on people, and eliciting feedback.
2. Make sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting.
There’s nothing more annoying than going to a meeting without knowing what the goal is. Be sure to circulate an agenda and all necessary materials ahead of time, and let everyone know what you hope to accomplish. Structure the meeting so you address all of the most important points and can reach a decision by the end. Otherwise, you might waste time on a conversation that could have taken place over e-mail. Everyone’s time is valuable, including yours.
3. Use reliable technology.
Technology can either be a saving grace or a burden. For virtual meetings especially, you have to make sure your tools are intuitive and reliable. Technical difficulties – or disturbances like frequent software updates – can quickly ruin any meeting. Consider using join.me by LogMeIn, which offers free, instant screen-sharing, unlimited audio, and recording (if you upgrade to Pro).
4. Enforce etiquette.
Even if you’re not in the same place for a meeting, the same etiquette rules should apply. For example, it’s still not polite to look at your phone when someone else is speaking, and meetings are not an appropriate time to answer e-mails. Similarly, it’s just as important to be on time. Emphasize these guidelines before each meeting and remind everyone to treat virtual meetings the same as in-person ones.
On that note, if you’re in charge of scheduling a virtual meeting, take time zones into account and try to find a convenient time for everyone. No one likes having a meeting at the tail end of his or her workday.
5. Be selective about who is invited.
Unsurprisingly, meetings are even harder to schedule when there are a lot of people involved. And they can get out of hand when there are several people talking at once. Avoid having “too many cooks in the kitchen” by narrowing down the invite list to only those who absolutely have to be included and just relay information to only those who need to know the results.