7 tips to conduct efficient remote meetings
Remote work is here to stay, and teams everywhere are finding new ways to navigating through this business normal to ensure that team efficiency and communication does not skip a beat. As a result, more organizations are investing in methods to conduct better virtual meetings to drive maximum output.
At its core, virtual meetings are just another form of meeting and hence, all the standard tips for a productive meeting still holds true. These tips include:
In this article, we have curated some best practices specific to remote meetings and to help you make your meeting more engaging and effective.
Whenever possible, minimize surprises during the meeting so that attendees can focus on the discussion without any distraction. This includes, letting the meeting attendees know if they are expected to be on video. This gives them the opportunity to prepare for the meeting and prevent any awkward situation or embarrassment associated with switching on video on a short notice or even worse, being the only person not on video due to other constraints.
While video calls are a great way to build human connection with your team, it should not be overused. Video calls have been known to induce stress, since people are more conscious of their facial expressions, behavior and the perception of their actions compared to attending the meetings in person. Researchers at CMU found that for certain meetings videoconferencing can impact the quality of the discussion:
“We found that video conferencing can actually reduce collective intelligence. This is because it leads to more unequal contribution to conversation and disrupts vocal synchrony. Our study underscores the importance of audio cues, which appear to be compromised by video access.”
Since you are not physically in the meeting room, it is natural for attendees to try to multitask and get done with low leverage tasks if they have nothing to add to your meeting or find the discussion irrelevant. However, since you are the meeting owner, you value their inputs. A good way to nudge attendees to stay engaged and participate in the discussion is by asking leading questions. A few questions or prompts that can be raised are –
On the other end of the spectrum where most attendees are eager to participate, it can lead to chaos with multiple people trying to put across their thoughts or ask questions during the meeting. To put their point across, member’s often end up speaking over each other or misinterpreting faciliatory queues to ask questions, switch topics or initiate active discussion. These situations can be easily avoided if all participants are instructed to “raise their hands” to indicate their intent to chime in. The meeting facilitator can then use the hands-raised queue to give attendees a chance to speak in the order in which they added themselves. Some virtual meeting tools already come with a feature to raise hand or create a speaker queue during the meeting. In case your choice of tool does not have this feature; you can ask attendees to use meeting chat window to raise their hand.
Everybody has a unique remote work setup depending upon their living arrangement, commitments outside of work and personal preferences. This means that meeting attendees might have different noises or non-work-related distractions going on in the background (e.g., my apartment’s landscaping team likes to come every Tuesday during my weekly business review meetings with their extremely loud power equipment). Hence, always ask your attendees to default to “mute” when joining the meeting and only un-mute to participate in the discussion. A few meeting tools let you, the meeting owner, auto-mute any new attendee joining the meeting.
Capturing exhaustive and accurate meeting notes in remote meetings can be tricky – there is limited access to visual cues to understand the discussion, speaker’s audio issues can result in miscommunication or a bad internet connection can result in loss of context. Hence, always recap the discussion before switching topics during the meeting or before ending the meeting. If you are crunched on time, summarize the high-level bullets including action items and key decisions to ensure overall alignment.
You spent the time to create detailed meeting agenda, accounted for every minute being spent in the meeting, made sure that participants are prepared for the discussion and have meeting objective clearly outlined – in short you prepared for a productive meeting. It would be extremely disappointing if the conversation gets derailed due to unexpected issues or technical glitches. Hence, always keep a few minutes buffer in your agenda to address any such issues during your meeting. Few last-minute glitches very common in remote meetings are:
If you are the lucky one and did not come across any issues, give everyone their time back by wrapping up meeting few minutes early!
Here is a summary for quick reference: