For a variety of reasons, remote work is becoming more and more common in today’s workforce. Some companies have elected to use remote workers to reduce overhead costs for physical workspace, while others have been driven to remote work by necessity during this time of global social distancing and business closure. Here, Christopher Lee, the Marketing Manager at WNY Holdings, shares 12 steps to having a productive virtual meeting.
Often, businesses are handling multiple projects with individuals and teams working together to bring together finished results, and remote work adds an extra layer of challenge to an already intricate process. Whatever the reason for remote work, one of the most critical aspects of maintaining a healthy, functioning business is regularly keeping in touch with teams and individuals to ensure that work progresses efficiently. The primary way to do this is through virtual meetings.
Virtual meetings do present their own set of challenges. However, careful preparations before meeting and direction during the meeting can alleviate many of the challenges posed by meeting online.
With any meeting, whether in person or virtual, it’s easy for things to spiral off-topic if there is not a clear, concise agenda in place detailing the meeting’s purpose and goals. Take time to craft an agenda that touches on everything important for all involved in the meeting. Avoid topics that apply to only a small group of attendees. This keeps everyone engaged while reserving individual or small group discussions for other meetings.
Before the meeting, take a few minutes with the key people who will be attending to ensure that you know any details or major tasks or achievements that they need time to highlight while everyone is together. Add these points to the agenda.
Show that You Care
When working remotely, it’s easy for workers to feel as if they’ve been forgotten, or their role has become less critical. Take a moment during the first few minutes of the meeting to check-in with attendees, making sure that they’re aware of their continued importance to the current project and the company as a whole.
Video if Possible
Having workers visibly present during the meeting is vital for maintaining a sense of collaboration and working together. Black screens drastically reduce the efficiency and feedback that is needed for efficient, useful meetings.
While the visible presence of meeting attendees is essential, background noises are not. If someone has a lot of ambient noise, whether, from children, pets, machinery, or traffic, it’s crucial that they keep their microphone muted so as not to distract others. It’s simple to temporarily unmute when there’s something to contribute.
Keeping an efficient online meeting does not involve a full progress report on every aspect of every project. Attendees should be ready to give very brief updates if needed, without going into unnecessary levels of detail. Setting a time limit for anyone who needs to provide updates can help maintain a reasonable length.
Meetings tend to prolong, both in person as well as virtually. Setting an over-arching time-limit from the outset, as well as smaller time-limits for each topic, will help everyone with scheduling their day and avoid wasting time going over needless material.
One way to ensure a sense of continuity for team-members is to encourage them to collaborate, both during and after meetings. If problems are to be solved, allot time during the meeting for discussion as a team, and encourage continued collaboration between key employees.
A huge temptation for any leader is to micromanage. When working remotely, it can be easy to speculate whether team members are accomplishing the necessary tasks. However, it’s essential to operate from a position of trust. Team-members will know when they’re trusted, and it will increase their sense of personal investment in the work. Meetings are a great time to reinforce and express that trust.
Assign Meeting Tasks
Not every topic in a meeting will be relevant to every attendee, and it can be easy for them to zone out or lose focus during those times. To avoid this, tasks can be assigned to attendees such as keeping notes or minutes, keep track of deadlines mentioned, or present a brief synopsis at the end.
One of the biggest temptations when attending a virtual meeting is for attendees to start multi-tasking during the session. Stating up-front that multi-tasking is not an option, combined with assigning relevant tasks during the meeting, as mentioned in the previous point, will effectively reduce the temptation to multi-task.
A few minutes assigned at the end for review and reiteration of key points will help to reinforce the material that’s been covered. It also gives those who have been keeping track of details during the meeting to review them with the group, ensuring that everyone has a clear view of how to move forward.
Virtual meetings, while challenging, do not have to be inefficient. They can be helpful, relevant, concise, and useful in any organization when conducted in an orderly way with care and planning.
About Christopher Lee:
Christopher Lee is the Marketing Manager at WNY Holdings LLC, a customer-focused digital marketing company that was started in 2018 to provide tailored marketing strategies for small businesses. Christopher Lee assists clients with all their digital marketing needs, from content marketing, web, and graphic design, media creation, SEO, all the way to Facebook advertising.