16 tips for running efficient virtual meetings

Meeting By Sparkup on March 16, 2020

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All over the world remote work is becoming more and more popular. Some companies have even switched to «full remote» mode: all of their teams work at a distance. And since the Covid-19 crisis remote work is becoming more widespread among employees that have the opportunity to work from home.

Remote meetings have become essential due to these factors. There are many tools for remote collaboration and everyone - or nearly everyone – has already participated in remote meetings, but ensuring that these meetings are efficient is a whole different story…

Remote work: the importance of optimizing remote meetings

It may seem as if holding a remote meeting is as simple as holding a face-to-face meeting, but there are some differences that must be taken into account to ensure that the meeting goes as planned and that the participants remain attentive.

We are constantly bombarded with notifications and emails, so it is even more difficult to ignore these distractions when you are in front of your screen during a remote meeting. That is why organizing remote meetings is not as simple as it seems.

However, it is important to ensure their efficiency – the coronavirus doesn’t leave us any choice. Because of Covid-19 remote work is becoming the norm for millions of French people, as this situation is likely to last for several weeks. And since meeting in person is no longer an option, making remote meetings and videoconferences efficient is a necessity.

Here are some tips to use before, during and after your meetings.

The success of remote meetings depends on how you prepare them

If you want yout meetings to be efficient, you cannot rely only on your talent for improvisation. In other words, in order to engage all the participants and to have an in-depth discussion of your projects, you should prepare your meeetings beforehand.

Everything should be ready before the participants join the virtual meeting and long before the first person starts speaking.

Tip n°1 : Good tools make good workers

There are multiple tools for organizing remote videoconferences. The difference between them is only in the functions and features that they offer – or not. So make a quick comparison of the existing tools and choose the one that meets your needs.

At Sparkup we use Zoom, for example, which is the perfect tool for us.

Tip n°2 : Preparation is key…

What format should you choose for your meeting ? What time is the most convenient for everyone ? Ask yourself these essential questions to organize your meeting so that everyone is satisfied. Don’t hesitate to change the time from one meeting to another, especially if you work with professionals from all over the world. That way it will not always be the same people who have to adjust their schedules.

Don’t forget to think about where you will put your computer while participating in the meeting. Make sure that your collaborators won’t see your messy kitchen or hear your children shouting.

Tip n°3 : Gather questions beforehand

Are you planning to discuss a subject that raises questions? Ask your participants to send you their questions via an interactive Q&A tool before the meeting starts. This will allow you to anticipate the answers and to save precious time.

Tip n°4 : Gather ideas from absent participants

Gather important ideas from absent participants beforehand and take them into account during the discussion. Encourage them to share their ideas and ask questions (see tip n3). This is a good way to include them in the work when they get the meeting report.

Tip n°5 : Check your hardware

This seems obvious, but how many times do we check everything only 3 minutes before the beginning of the meeting? In this case it is difficult to solve any problems that may arise…

Take the time to check your microphone and webcam several hours beforehand or on the day before the meeting. It will help you avoid any inconveniences.

Tip n°6 : Be (very) punctual

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip : anticipate possible problems when connecting to your digital videoconference. Connect 5-10 minutes before the meeting whether you are the organizer or a participant.

Once the meeting has started it doesn’t mean you can relax

The time has come. Your co-workers are joining the videoconference one by one. But will your meeting be efficient enough?

Tip n°7 : Create proximity with the help of a video

When everyone is online ecourage your colleagues to activate their cameras. Remote work doesn’t mean you have to forget about human contact – quite the opposite. The meeting will be less impersonal if everyone can see each other on the screen.

Tip n°8 : Remind the paricipants to turn off their microphone if they are not speaking

To avoid background noise ask the participants to turn off their microphones when they are not speaking. At the same time you should give them the opportunity to turn the microphone on again at any moment when they have something to say to make your meetings more inclusive.

Tip n°9 : Ensure the onboarding of your videoconference

Are you the organizer of the meeting? Give everybody a warm welcome when all the participants have joined the meeting and don’t forget to call them to order.

Tip n°10 : Start your meeting with an icebreaker vote

If you are holding a meeting with quite a few participants, introducing them one by one may take time. To keep the atmosphere friendly and to engage your participants, start with an icebreaker.

If you are looking for some inspiration, here is a series of efficient icebreakers to kick off  your meetings.

Tip n°11 : It’s all about planning

Once you have defined the agenda, it is important that you stick to it. In order to do this you have to be organized. Allocate time equally. Respect the established timeframes. Keep your eye on the clock and try to stick to the schedule as best as you can. You didn’t have the time to discuss certain issues? Plan a new meeting as soon as this one is over.

Tip n°12 : Find out the participants’ opinion in real time to make decisions

During a physical meeting you can make a decision by simply asking everyone to vote by raising their hand, even though some participants’ opinion may be influenced by the group. During remote meetings and videoconferences, however, it is much more difficult to find out what the participants are thinking. Use voting and polls to find out the participants’ opinion and get results in real time.

Tip n°13 : Give the participants a chance to speak up

Another way of giving the participants a chance to speak up during a remote meeting is by using an interactive Q&A tool that will allow them to ask questions at any time.

As the facilitator you will be able to manage the questions and optimize the response time by answering the most popular ones.

Tip n°14 : Re-engage your participants with quizzes and polls 

Due to the coronavirus the use of videoconference tools is soaring, but not the attention of your participants. A good way to keep their attention and to make your presentation easier to understand is to use quizzes and polls to split it into several parts. A quiz can easily allow you to check how well the participants have understood what you have said and a poll will help you get feedback.

Remote meetings: tomorrow’s success is the result of today’s work

The meeting went well – great! Think you can move on to something else? Think again! The work is not over once the participants have quit the videoconference. 

Tip n°15 : The importance of meeting reports

Always ask one of the participants to prepare a report about the discussion. You can send the report via email or share the document with all the participants. It should include the list of actions to take following the meeting.

Tip n°16 : Gather and use the participants’ feedback

There might have been some technical issues, difficulties with the connection, crackling sound… You can quickly create a satisfaction survey in the Sparkup app to get feedbak about the meeting. What is the point of this ? To make your next meeting better !

 

Now you have all the cards in your hands to optimize your remote meetings. Having to work remotely because of the coronavirus should not become an obstacle – turn it into an opportunity to work differently, but better. 

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