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The How and Why of Conducting Virtual Meetings

Even with the pandemic mostly in the rearview, the world of work will never be the same. Most businesses have formally adopted a hybrid structure where employees work in the office and remotely. Additionally, hiring during the pandemic moved many roles to remote, so distributed teams are the norm. That means you’ll need to continue to conduct virtual meetings.

While there’s been much conjecture about video meeting fatigue, you can’t discount its effectiveness. Some would argue they are even better than in-person meetings, as participants concentrate on the screen and deal with fewer distractions. However, it can also cause unequal contribution. Still, some would say the same thing about discussions around a conference room table.

So, how can you host ideal virtual meetings that encourage participation, collaboration, and communication? Keep reading for tips and strategies on virtual meetings.

If It Could’ve Been an Email, It Doesn’t Need to Be a Meeting

According to research from Zippia, the average worker spends three hours a week in meetings, with 30 percent spending five hours per week. Of those meetings, 71 percent are unproductive, equating to a loss of $37 billion.

Meetings take away time for individual contribution and productivity, so there must be a purpose behind it if you have one. One of the biggest sources of time-wasting is those that are only for updates and status reports. With technology tools for project management and file-sharing repositories, you shouldn’t need these on your schedule. Anyone should be able to look at calendars or documents and know what’s going on with a project.

If it could simply be an email regarding this information or anything else that doesn’t warrant discussion or collaboration, don’t schedule that meeting!

By eliminating these, the meetings you do have should end with accomplishing a task. So, how do you conduct virtual ones that engage?

Key Tips for Successful Virtual Meetings

We should all be pros at video conferencing, but that doesn’t mean that the connection and engagement are there. Make the most of your time together with these best practices.

Require Video

Unless someone’s having technical issues or calling in from the road, you should insist on using video. We’ve all somewhat adjusted to seeing our faces on the screen. The reason that using video matters is that people can still make eye contact and notice nonverbal communication. If you’re not on the screen, you feel more anonymous, which also means less engaged. Encourage your team to turn the camera on and be present for the time you have together.

Set Expectations with an Agenda

How many meetings do you attend where there’s little context or information? You may know the topic or project involved but may be unaware of what you need to accomplish. Providing a quick agenda to attendees in the invite sets expectations and makes you use your time wisely.

It doesn’t have to be formal or elaborate. Just add a few bullet points about what the group needs to discuss and what you hope to resolve. Having this can also help participants come prepared.

Lead with Introductions When Appropriate

If you’re hosting a video meeting that includes colleagues, customers, or partners who don’t know each other, start with introductions. If everyone were in the same room, you’d do that, so don’t forget to do it virtually. Announce the person’s name, title, and area of work. Then let them share a bit about themselves in the context of the meeting.

If this exchange occurs, it can help people connect better. Each attendee will know the others’ expertise and experience. It also defines roles and responsibilities so that as you all work together toward a goal, everyone knows their deliverables.

Keep Meetings Short to Avoid Losing Attendee Attention

You can get a lot done in 30 minutes or less. Having that agenda can keep you on course and to the point. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be personable and have some small talk before diving in, but we’re all busy.

Reducing the meeting time can be a positive for attendees. They know it will not impact a considerable chunk of their day. With the time crunch, they’ll also be ready to make decisions and leave with concrete action items.

Play the Role of Active Facilitator

Whoever sets the meeting is the host, which requires more than just sending the invite. Meeting leaders need to embrace being the facilitator. You want to get everyone into the conversation, saying things like, “John, what are your thoughts on this considering your background?”

If you notice that one attendee hasn’t added anything, call them out in a subtle and comfortable way. Tell them you want to hear their thoughts. Call on people specifically instead of saying, “Any comments?”

Use Tools to Get People Involved and Items Completed

Tools that will help you do this include screen sharing and annotation. If you need to hammer out a spec sheet, plan an event, or anything that requires the collaboration of others, these can be helpful. It’s a virtual whiteboard that allows you to get through your agenda items and make decisions.

Virtual Meetings Are Here to Stay

Virtual meetings will remain a permanent fixture for companies. By leveraging these tips, they can be more meaningful and productive. It starts with the right platform, and Intermedia AnyMeeting offers features, functionality, and reliability. Check out how it works today.

About Darcy Mekis