Virtual meetings are one of the latest trends, and this trend is only going to continue. Even when this Coronavirus crisis is over, a lot of people will have become used to working and networking from home. As such, it pays to know how to run a great virtual meeting. Let’s go over a few simple tips that should help to improve your meetings and make them run much more smoothly.
Make Sure To Use The Video Feed
This one seems a little bit obvious, but we should mention it anyway. Virtual meetings don’t necessarily require a video feed, but it does help quite a bit. When you go with an audio-only meeting, people lose the ability to read the faces of those with whom they converse.
Facial expressions and hand movements are also a part of normal human communication, and an audio meeting doesn’t allow for them, either. You want the participants of your meeting to feel at least somewhat connected to one another, as it leads to greater group cohesion and greater productivity.
Send Materials In Advance
When you conduct a virtual meeting for business purposes, people will likely be reporting the results of their work. This might include reading a report or giving some statistics, etc. However, you don’t want your virtual meeting to be like a bunch of schoolchildren giving book reports.
If you wait for everyone to recap their work, this can be a huge time waster, especially in large meetings. Instead, you should send a pre-meeting email to all participants. This email should include all the relevant information that they might need to know. You should definitely include reports from all teams as an attachment and insist that everyone read this material beforehand.
Start With A Check-In
As we said before, it is important for the participants of your meeting to feel connected to one another. A good meeting should have the atmosphere of a close-knit community, but that isn’t always easy to create. When you gather a bunch of people who don’t even know each other, it is easy for the meeting to turn robotic.
One good way to avoid this is to help your people to meet each other. This can be done with a quick “check-in” ritual at the beginning of each meeting. Every member of the team should take a turn to talk about what has been going on in their lives, both personally and professionally. Don’t push people to say any more than they want, but make sure they at least give everyone a chance to know them better.
If you are attending an important in-person meeting, you probably won’t get up until that meeting is done. Of course, small interruptions like bathroom breaks are unavoidable, but they need to be kept to a minimum. Everyone involved needs to pay attention to what is being said and contribute something to the discussion.
It may be tempting to hit that mute button and let people talk amongst themselves while you do something else. However, this is not something that the host of the meeting should ever do! People are looking to you for guidance and direction, so what do you think will happen when you suddenly dip out? In many cases, you will come back and find an argument raging because you weren’t there to direct the discussion in a more constructive direction. Without a leader, people naturally fall into the habit of infighting.
Don’t Try To Do Everything Yourself
When you are running a meeting, you don’t want to seem like a bossy person. Even if you are the boss, you don’t necessarily want to micromanage every detail of the meeting. People need to be able to express themselves honestly, especially if you want to get useful feedback from your team. A team of “yes-people” might make you feel good, but they won’t help you to improve.
To get others involved in the meeting, you can give people certain tasks to perform. For instance, you might tell someone to take notes of the meeting and record the most important aspects. Any decisions made or agreements reached will naturally need to be recorded. This is known as “keeping the minutes” because a new note is (theoretically) made every minute.
Give People Time To Talk Amongst Themselves
As we have already said, you want the members of your group to bond with one another. Preferably, you want them to become close friends, but mutual respect is good enough. Regardless, you should allow people a little bit of time to talk without anyone moderating or directing them. This kind of informal interaction creates a greater feeling of community.
Whether before or after the meeting, you should make time for this. Most people prefer to simply leave when the meeting is over without closing the app. This allows the meeting to continue until everyone has left. Many people feel nervous about expressing their opinions to someone in authority, so this gives them time to make their views heard.
Finding The Right Balance
Perhaps the biggest challenge when running a virtual meeting is to make sure that all parties get along and respect one another. Of course, this is easier said than done. It is one of those situations in which a balance must be struck. On the one hand, you want to create an environment where everyone feels they can be honest. From a business perspective, forthright speech makes it much easier to identify and address any existing problems.
On the other hand, you want to make sure that people can walk the line between honesty and politeness. Even if someone has a controversial statement to make, they should be able to make it in a calm, logical, and respectful manner. They should refrain from making things personal, focusing instead on practical solutions. Finding this balance takes time, but it’s worth the trouble.
These are just a few simple tips that should help your virtual meetings to run much more smoothly. As you continue to host these meetings, you will certainly gather some lessons of your own, and you will probably incorporate them into your practices. We encourage this, as it is necessary for your growth and improvement. If this article helps you to improve your leadership skills, then we will have done our jobs. If you agree, please fill out the contact form to learn more.