6 Tips to Improve Your Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings, if done right, can be a great way to deal with clients and even employees that aren’t in the same area as you. As helpful and powerful a tool as virtual meetings can be, there can also be a lot of pain points when dealing with them.
Virtual Meeting Disasters
For example, depending on the quality of the equipment used on both yours and the receiving end, it can be difficult to hear clearly what is being said. This issue can be exacerbated by the platform that you choose to run your virtual meeting through, as well as the quality of your internet connection.
Another difficulty with virtual meetings can happen when there are multiple participants. Oftentimes it becomes confusing and frustrating when trying to organize who is speaking, to avoid speaking over each other, and the annoyance of interruptions. Additionally, it’s common for some people to become passive listeners with no substantive connection to the rest of the participants.
If you’ve ever encountered these problems, you are not alone—but there are solutions. Here are six ways you can make your virtual meetings the best you can.
1. Troubleshoot Your Tech
The virtual meeting tools you choose to use can be the best in the world, but if you do not know how to use the technology correctly, the quality isn’t going to make a big difference.
You should always check your technology before the meeting. Make sure you know how to start, stop, mute, share, or adjust any settings in your equipment or software. Knowing how to use and handle your technology before the meeting begins will free you up to discuss more important content.
It’s also recommended that you have a backup plan. Technology can break down and be unreliable even with the best planning, and so you need to be prepared—no one is 100% immune from technical issues and glitches.
2. Be Direct
Virtual meetings can be difficult because they lack the face-to-face interaction and non-verbal cues inherent to an in-person meeting. Without being able to pick up on things like body language, it can be difficult to know who is being spoken to or when it is appropriate to ask questions or insert yourself into the conversation.
When you have the opportunity to lead a virtual meeting, being direct can help remove this confusion. Rather than asking meeting-wide questions, you can ask questions directly to one person. No one will sit around wondering whether a question was rhetorical or whether it’s appropriate for them to offer an answer.
3. Share Information Before the Meeting
If there are any visuals or statistics you will be referring to, make sure that everyone will have access to them before the start of the meeting. This will help reduce the amount of confusion and unpreparedness from the rest of the meeting participants. Someone at each of the different physical locations represented in the meeting can be responsible for printing and distributing handouts, or everyone can receive them in an email beforehand along with your meeting agenda. Which leads us to:
4. Have a Clear Agenda
24-48 hours before the meeting, share with all attendees the agenda for the virtual meeting. This will keep the discussion on track, while also helping everyone prepare. If there is ever dead air as part of your meeting, you will be able to turn back to your agenda and move to the next topic. Agendas also help keep particularly talkative attendees on track. If they start to drift away from the shared agenda, you can always bring them back to the topic at hand without getting derailed or sidetracked by what they want to talk about. And by sending out an agenda in advance, meeting participants have an opportunity to request additions if they have something important to discuss.
5. Use an Online Shared Space
When choosing an online shared space, consider what you would want out of a normal meeting room. If you would choose a conference room where people are able to write on a whiteboard, share notes, or collaborate, you will need an online shared space that can accomplish those same goals before, during, and after the meeting.
If you choose to use an online shared space, make sure to practice and understand the program well before the meeting so you can be prepared to use it with confidence.
6. Establish Rules
A large part of the chaos that can be involved with virtual meetings is caused by participants not knowing what is expected out of them. For example, if attendees are not aware of the standard practice of muting their audio when someone else is presenting, they may end up becoming a distraction if there are noisy interruptions on their end.
By giving firm guidelines early in the conversation, or even before the meeting as part of the agenda, you help the meeting run smoother. Perhaps attendees should wait to speak until they have been acknowledged by the meeting organizer. Or maybe there needs to be a limit to the amount of speaking time each person can use throughout the meeting. If virtual meetings are new to your organization, you will no doubt see the value in establishing certain rules as you go.
Virtual meetings can be useful and do not have to be as painful as they might have been in the past. As a bonus but crucial tip, a meeting room rental can help make sure you won’t run into any distractions or have any unwanted interruptions during your meeting. It can also ensure top-notch equipment with the technological side taken care of.
Contact us to learn more about our video conferencing, meeting rooms, and other helpful virtual meeting tools.