During this worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have been challenged with transitioning to a remote work environment.
For some businesses, the transition has been seamless, as the necessary process and technology were already in place.
But for others, the change has been a real struggle.
At the core of any business operation is effective communication.
And in this new remote work environment, most face to face communication has been replaced with virtual meetings.
While these meetings weren’t completely alien to people before the crisis, they certainly weren’t the norm for most businesses.
For those businesses, there has been a steep and swift learning curve in implementing virtual meetings as the new normal.
With virtual meetings now at the heart of business communication, it is essential that you are able to make them as productive as possible.
So, how can you make your virtual meetings more productive? Here are a few great places to start!
Choose the right platform
Today there are a number of platforms to choose from, but to make your virtual meeting as productive as possible, make sure you choose the right one for your team and make sure that everyone knows how to use it.
There is no shortage of great options available these days, but each platform has its own set of unique features.
Determine which features and functionalities are important to your business and then start narrowing the list down.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can’t go wrong giving these options a try: Zoom, UberConference, WebEx, Skype, Google Meet, and GoToMeeting.
Log on early
There’s nothing worse than logging on at the last minute only to discover your mic isn’t working, or you don’t have the meeting PIN.
Just like any in-person meeting, give yourself a few minutes lead time to make sure you have everything in order and to account for any unforeseen issues.
Have a leader
Virtual meetings can get messy, so if you’re not the leader, then make sure there is one.
If you feel the meeting is getting out of hand and people are either not talking enough or talking over each other, then you should take the lead and steer the meeting in a more productive direction.
We’ve all seen the BBC interview, which was interrupted by two toddlers walking in.
While this can be highly amusing, it’s a good idea to minimize distractions as much as you possibly can.
Make sure that you and all your participants are sitting in a closed and well-illuminated room with a clear background.
Share the agenda in advance
Just like you would in a physical, face to face meeting, share the agenda in advance.
This is actually more important when it comes to virtual meetings, as it can be easier to go off track or to keep people in line when everyone is in different places.
Share the agenda so that everyone knows what they can expect.
This will ensure that your meeting has a flow with a clear beginning, middle and end.
Adopt a mandatory video-on policy
Many companies have a mandatory “video-on” policy to keep communication more effective.
Not everyone loves seeing their smiling face on camera, but instituting a video-on policy may be a necessary evil.
One major benefit of requiring video is it stops multitasking. While it may seem productive, multitasking prevents you from fully engaging in the meeting.
Our agency has implemented a mandatory video-on policy for our daily team meeting each morning.
It has helped our team maintain some semblance of their normal morning work routine, as no one wants to roll right out of bed and jump on a video call right away.
Start with a friendly chat
Virtual meetings can be awkward at times, especially in the beginning.
Rather than sitting in awkward silence waiting for the presenter to speak, take the opportunity to socialize a bit.
And even when the presenter or meeting leader is ready to get started, it’s always nice to have a casual chat to break the ice instead of jumping right into business.
A little small talk goes a long way in helping everyone settle in for a good meeting.
Hold More Meetings
Right now, you may need to hold more meetings than usual because so many people are feeling isolated and disconnected.
The more you can build a sense of community, the better everyone’s emotional health and work performance will be.
A well-run meeting can actually be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary and depressing day.
Web meetings and videoconferencing offer the ability to use visuals.
This can be really useful for keeping people engaged and to help everyone understand certain things better.
Visuals also allow more opportunities for participants to get involved.
Not only can everyone view the same image, but they can all watch as someone edits it, and contribute thoughts or pictures as the meeting progresses.
Keep them short and sweet
Don’t let your meetings drag on for hours.
To keep everyone focused, keep your meetings between 15 and 45 minutes and make optimum use of the time.
If you can’t manage all the talking points within that time frame, then it may be better to split the meeting up into two or more sessions.
Short and sweet is the best recipe for increased productivity when communicating virtually.
Whether this work environment is the new normal or just a temporary, virtual meetings are here to stay.
Embrace the change and start getting more out of your virtual meetings!
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