If there’s one thing 2020 has shown businesses, it’s that you can’t afford to ignore technology — at least not if you want to stay organized during these changing and challenging times. While many corporations have been taking advantage of telecommuting and remote work opportunities for years, now the majority is on board.
From education to health care, companies in all industries are evolving to become more flexible and off-site. Therefore, with the growing need for working remotely, being able to meet virtually is more important than ever. Whether you want to discuss decisions, announce policies, brainstorm about problems, or, for any other reason, get together to talk, remote meetings are vital.
With that in mind, every company can benefit from a look at virtual meetings best practices for modern times. Whether meetings take place daily or quarterly, running them online presents unique challenges. Without clear guidelines, it can be hard to keep everyone engaged and on the same page.
To help you manage meetings with efficiency and effectiveness, here’s a look at some virtual facilitation best practices:
- Use video. Emails and phone calls certainly have their place, but, when you’re trying to re-create the feel of meeting in person, don’t ignore video. Seeing one another’s faces on a screen is the next best thing to sitting around a conference table — and can help with keeping participants better engaged. For the first remote meetings best practices tip to remember: Use video, choose a software that allows for this, and encourage team members to be camera-ready. The person leading the meeting should pay attention to body language — from glazed eyes to motionless listening — as virtual metrics of whether or not staff is engaged.
- Create company rules of engagement. Every company has a distinct culture, so the virtual meeting standards that work for one business may not be right for another. Take time to think about what works for your company. While you don’t want to overload your team with a long list of rules, you do want to create a handful of guidelines that everyone understands and agrees to, simply for the benefit of facilitating clearer, more useful interactions. Example rules could include requiring everyone to be in a quiet space for meetings, having all participants setting their screens to mute when not speaking, and/or not allowing multitasking during meetings. Whatever the case, communicate these guidelines clearly and consistently to ensure everyone is on board.
- Assign roles. Every meeting needs a facilitator or moderator. However, while there will often be a single person leading a meeting, that doesn’t mean everyone else is solely left to a listening role. By giving individuals responsibilities in virtual meetings, you can encourage more engagement and make sure tasks get accomplished. Have one person facilitate discussion, another take notes and email them afterward, one person in charge of technical troubleshooting, and another to keep time. If you notice a dull spirit in the meeting, assign someone to bolster connection and levity. Roles can change, but they’re important for improving how meetings flow.
- Start with check-ins or icebreakers. One common challenge with virtual group meetings is getting everyone to engage. Set the tone by starting each meeting with a question that everyone takes turns answering. This could be a fun, light icebreaker, or it could be a more serious check-in, especially when pressing current events are on everyone’s minds. For example, is everyone OK? Are there any updates of which personnel need to be aware? Doing this increases the sense of connection among meeting members, and it can help warm up your group.
- Don’t be boring. While virtual meetings present many benefits, they can wear on individuals over time. For this reason, it’s important to keep meetings as brief and focused as possible: Shorten presentations. Have clear agendas each time you meet. Prioritize interaction to maximize time. Just as real-life meetings are most productive when they’re focused and goal-oriented, so too virtual interactions need strategy to be most useful.
- Call on individuals. Whether you virtually go around the room, giving everyone a chance to speak, or randomly call on team members to answer a question or give feedback, look for ways to get everyone engaged. This not only draws out quieter participants, but also it prevents more vocal members from dominating the chat.
- Get regular feedback. While some people will be quick to offer feedback on how virtual meetings are going, others will be less forthcoming. Keep an accurate pulse on your team by seeking feedback regularly. One way to do that is with after-meeting polls that collect thoughts, questions, suggestions, etc. in real time when a meeting ends. Set up automatic polls, or send emails asking for feedback, to gauge reactions from participants.
As your company seeks to implement remote meetings best practices, there are many factors to consider — from rules of engagement to soliciting feedback. A business also needs to evaluate the digital environments it’s using to facilitate those meetings. McCann Systems is the leading provider of sophisticated, innovative audio/visual services.
When you’re ready to move to the next generation of remote communication, check out Proscenium– a connected studio environment that offers perspective video and audio, participant tools and analytics, and a truly immersive experience.