Virtual meetings are a blessing for modern businesses, allowing them to empower employees to work remotely while still keeping them in the loop and making them feel connected to their colleagues.
They can also be a curse if they are not orchestrated efficiently. So if you’re sick of struggling with unwieldy virtual meetings, here are some tips to transform the experience for the better.
Expect people to turn up on time – and get started on time
If people arrive late for a virtual meeting, this inevitably leads to delays and increases the chance that it will either overrun or that not all of the points on the agenda will be adequately covered.
Being clear that the start time is set in stone, and that there won’t be five to ten minutes of irrelevant chit chat at the beginning, is vital if you are responsible for organizing these events.
Likewise, if you are an attendee, being punctual and sticking to the remote management strategy put in place by the meeting’s organizer is the best way to impress senior team members.
Whatever the case, making a virtual meeting room accessible before the allotted start time so that people can join and get their socializing out of the way before it kicks off in earnest is a good tactic.
Give everyone an opportunity to contribute
Even if your virtual meeting runs like clockwork, it might not be engaging to all attendees if they are purely passive.
The best way to get people actively involved and engaged with this type of meeting is to offer them the chance to make a contribution. This can be in the form of a specific, pre-planned presentation, or by asking for feedback on what has been discussed so far.
And if you feel like the virtual meeting is really only going to involve one person reeling off information to other team members, it’s probably more of a time-saver to summarize these points in an email instead.
Don’t be afraid of shorter meetings
Virtual meetings don’t have to be sprawling affairs. In fact, sometimes planning for shorter meetings is a great way of focusing the attention of attendees and making sure you get to the point sooner rather than later.
If you usually have 30 minute meetings each morning, try cutting them down by 5 minutes. Likewise, trimming 10 minutes off a typical hour-long meeting could pay dividends.
In addition, if you have covered everything on the agenda, ending meetings early is no bad thing, and could restore balance to an overstuffed schedule.
Invite the right people
While virtual meetings can be productive, they are also a waste of time for attendees who have no real need to be there.
Be discerning in terms of who you invite, and avoid going all-in if there are people on the list who probably have little reason to attend.
Ensure actionable next steps are made clear
Efficiency in virtual meetings is not just about what is discussed during the get-together, but what the outcomes are in the aftermath.
You need to take the time to check that every attendee is clear what is expected of them once the meeting concludes. This will avoid a lot of treading water, or retreading ground already covered.
A good way to push this further is to send out a summary of the meeting’s minutes, or at least the main talking points, to help jog the memories of participants.
Hopefully you now have a bit more of a framework around which you can base your virtual meetings going forward. And if something isn’t working for you, don’t be hesitant to change it.