8 Best Practices to Holding a Virtual Meeting
With working from home becoming more common because of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are struggling to find a consistent way to exchange ideas and keep their employees up to date and engaged. Virtual meetings have been around for years, but it was not until recent weeks that businesses have had to dig deep and come up with effective best practices for holding virtual meetings.
Running a productive virtual meeting, complicated by a lack of physical presence, is not as simple as it appears. At AFFIRM, through trial and error, we’ve found the following tips to be helpful.
- Use invites with a notification system. Make it a habit to send out meeting invitations well in advance of the gathering, ensuring everyone confirms whether they are attending or not. Notification systems are useful for workers because it is easy to become sidetracked with a project and forget about a meeting.
- Send out an agenda beforehand. The more information co-workers have ahead of time, the more engaged they will feel. Agendas have a focal point, and if meeting-goers know the content, they are more likely to be plugged in, coming up with answers to anticipated questions.
- Set webcams to eye level. Most people use laptops on a desk while working and keep the computer on the same surface during a meeting. This results in a webcam positioned at an awkward level, with the camera tilted up, resulting in an unflattering image. Make sure your webcam is at eye level, so your image will look more natural. One way to solve this is to simply place your laptop on a box.
- Mute it. When joining a meeting, remember to hit the mute button and keep it on mute when you’re not talking. Muting can also act as an indicator. If all meeting-goers do this, then coming off mute is a sign that you want to speak. If your software allows it, change your settings so that you join all calls on mute. You don’t want to announce your presence with a noisy background or barking dog if you forget to mute.
- Use an icebreaker. Not everybody is a fan of this, as it takes up extra time at the beginning of the meeting. However, it is essential to reinforce interpersonal relationships when people may feel isolated. It is also vital to know that co-workers know you value their personal lives in this chaotic time, so a type of “check-in” is a helpful way to keep everybody involved.
- Minimize presentations. If you’ve ever sat through a lengthy presentation at a face-to-face meeting, you know how long and sometimes painful they can feel. Long presentations at virtual conferences can be worse. It is best if meetings are discussions. Background information should be provided to meeting participants beforehand.
- Have a focal point. Every meeting should have a goal with a clearly defined objective. Remember, you are taking up somebody’s valuable time. Keep the discussion based on the key topics, keeping in mind the bigger picture of the meeting’s goal. For example, if an answer can be found through a simple Google search, do not put that topic on the agenda.
- Ask for real-time feedback. It can be difficult to read visual cues and body language in a virtual meeting. Use a phone-based app like Poll Everywhere. Participants will need specific instructions, but as the group learns, this may turn out to be a valuable tool.
While we don’t know the exact time frame, there will come a day when COVID-19 is behind us. However, virtual meetings and remote working are here for the long term. Use these principles for your next Teams, Skype, or Zoom meeting, and you will help put best practices in place for the future.
If you need assistance with setting up virtual meetings or any other marketing need during this challenging time, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be here, Always Responsive, Extremely Reliable and Absolutely Positive!