by Chris Dyer Virtual meetings can be a real drag. People can go on for too long, and the phrase “Couldn’t this have been an email?” may start spiraling through your mind. And watching the clock has never been easier with everyone on computers. Unproductive meetings may lead companies to feel they’re unnecessary. However, when working remotely or in a hybrid setting, these meetings can be crucial to keeping everyone connected, up-to-date, and on task.
Virtual meetings can be an incredible tool for your workplace, but only when used correctly. If you want a meeting to move efficiently and help everyone accomplish what they need to, these tips can help things move along. And keep in mind that some of these may take time to work through. Not everyone finds technology intuitive, and remote work can pose many new challenges. Be patient with your team as you implement new strategies and help them adjust as you go.
Set The Standard Establishing how virtual meetings will run and how you want them to go will help people adjust to what is expected and better prepare. This can allow others to help the meetings go more smoothly and understand what will be done during each meeting. Expectations can vary depending on the meeting, so creating trends and plans will let you and your team know what is next.
You may schedule a weekly check-in with certain team members and then do an all-staff meeting each week or month so that people can weigh in on work or simply chat about what is coming next month. These meetings depend on what you and your team need. Some virtual teams need more time to build camaraderie and get to know each other, so creating meetings where that can happen regularly are an excellent way to promote water-cooler talk and continued communication.
Creating routines will help your team learn how to communicate efficiently. You may initially schedule too many meetings, so be attentive to how they go and see where things need to be adjusted to build the ideal schedule.
Updated And Related Tools of Virtual Meetings Do all your employees have the materials they need to engage in efficient virtual meetings? Whether you are running a hybrid or fully remote workspace, different people have different needs when working away from an office. Does everyone have a reliable internet connection? A microphone and camera capabilities if required? Virtual spaces can create barriers for certain people, and it’s important to be aware of these so you can step in and help.
It may be difficult for some staff to ask for help or know what is required for virtual meetings. They may not know what they’re missing to make meetings more efficient. Make sure tools are available for everyone and check in individually if necessary so that when meetings are scheduled, they can occur without any unnecessary technical difficulties. Patience and empathy can be crucial in these moments because tech can be incredibly easy for some and an immense challenge for others. If you have a staff member who isn’t getting it, take the time to work with them to ensure no one is left out or missing information.
The Same Virtual Page As mentioned above, it’s essential when you move into the virtual space that everyone knows how to use the tech required to meet. Has everyone been trained to use Zoom or google meet? Does everyone know where to find the details for upcoming meetings? It’s easy to remind someone of an upcoming meeting when walking by their office, but when you don’t have that in-person interaction to help you remember, you may need to rely on alternative strategies. Setting meeting reminders on a shared calendar can be helpful to make sure everyone is on the same page with the schedule and won’t miss a beat, especially if you’re transitioning from in-person to online.
Be sure that everyone knows what tools you are using and where everything can be found. Consider consolidating your systems so that most things can be easily found in one or two places. Using a few tools is a lot easier than using six or seven for communication, meetings, sharing documents, and other work-related necessities. Consider what will make your team the most efficient and help everyone do their work, and focus on building your workspace around those tools.
Virtual Meetings: Have An Agenda Virtual meetings can sometimes feel more casual, especially when half your staff may be wearing pajama bottoms. This makes it easier for everyone to feel less obligated to be prepared or organized. You might think you have everything you need for a meeting since you’re already at your computer, but meetings still require prep, especially when aiming for efficiency.
Creating an agenda for you and your staff can help everyone stay on task and work through topics efficiently. It can also create a good separation between strictly work meetings and those more aimed at catching up and helping staff get to know one another, especially for all remote teams. Agendas can also allow staff to prepare and come to the computer ready to present certain information or chime in on projects they’re working on. It’s a small way to add structure that can make a big difference.
Provide Breaks in Virtual Meetings This might sound counterintuitive when aiming for speed, but when the real goal is efficiency, allowing breaks during longer meetings is essential. It might be harder to remember that a break could benefit the team when you’re meeting virtually. You may not notice some tired looks if you’re sharing your screen or absorbed in a presentation. People need moments to step away, grab some water or run to the restroom just like they would during an in-person meeting.
If you know you’re meeting may run on the longer side, plan to have a five-minute break at the hour mark, and even include it on the agenda if you have to. This will allow your team to come back refreshed and ready to work instead of waiting for the meeting to end so they can have a respite.
Expect Technical Difficulties No virtual meeting will be completely free of any technical issues. There is always some computer lag or someone’s mic isn’t working, or they simply didn’t realize for several minutes that they were still on mute. This is okay; technical difficulties don’t have to feel like a big block in efficiency. If you expect they will happen and deal with them calmly, then there is no reason they should derail a meeting.
Make sure that you understand the tools your staff is using so that you can help clarify or correct things. And if you aren’t the tech expert, notice who on your staff is and allow them to take the lead in instances of technical difficulties.
Efficient And Effective Before your virtual meetings can be efficient, they need to work at all. Your staff needs to have access to the meetings and understand the tools being used so they can attend and be effective team members. Start with the basics and build your way up from there, and remember to be patient if some staff need help with certain technical aspects. Even the most tech-savvy will have tough internet days.
The virtual space can create new problems, but it also offers opportunities. Companies can now include staff from all over the world more easily and utilize new ideas to create new products and projects. The challenges can sometimes inhibit seeing the possibilities, but if you use the above tips, there is no reason why meetings shouldn’t start moving smoothly. And if you want more meeting tips to help you best utilize the hybrid space, check out this webinar with Chris Dyer, an expert in remote work and leadership.
Chris Dyer is a recognized company culture and remote work expert. As a former CEO managing thousands of people, his companies consistently were named the best place to work. They have also been named a fastest growing company by Inc Magazine 5 times. Chris routinely consults and speaks, and Inc Magazine ranked him as the #1 Leadership Speaker on Culture. He has two bestselling books The Power of Company Culture and Remote Work, and has been named #5 on the Leadershum Power List, a Top 40 Change Management Guru, a Top 50 Global Thought Leader, and a Top 50 leadership podcast just this year. As a leadership speaker his goal is to inspire audiences with a straightforward delivery, insightful candor, and engaging humor. His talks leave audiences permanently transformed, offering innovative perspectives on leadership to improve company culture, and empower organizations to discover new successes. Countless companies have unlocked productivity, performance, and profits by implementing his 7 Pillar Strategy.