Strange times my friends. With Covid-19 forcing so many of us to change our businesses from in-person to virtual, you might be finding your calendar full of Zoom calls instead of coffee shop meetings. I love virtual meetings, and I’ve got 7 tips for productive virtual meetings that can be the difference between an awkward cluster and an important tool for your business.
Productive Virtual Meetings Require Preparation
Just like regular meetings, video meetings require preparation. Often more than in person meetings because they’re harder to wing and harder to keep people’s concentration.
Tip #1 Send out reports in advance.
It’s hard to keep people’s attention on a video call. If your meeting is about a report or a finding, send the report or summary out before the meeting. Stress how important it is that people come prepared to discuss.
Tip #2 Prepare your slides or websites in advance.
In a virtual meeting, it’s hard to draw on a whiteboard, and you don’t want anyone doing anything on their computer except watching you. Be prepared to share your screen and explain your ideas through slides. If you’re going to discuss a website, have the exact page up on your computer before the meeting so you don’t waste time trying to find it.
Tip #3 No Distractions
Whether you are hosting or attending, prepare like you would for an in person meeting. Get dressed (yes, even pants because who knows!). Have coffee or water filled and ready. Have your notebook handy, and get rid of any distractions.
For more ideas to prepare for a productive virtual meeting, check out these tips. Especially if it’s going to be a BIG meeting.
Tip # 4 Plan for Technical Issues
We’re dealing with technology. Not just one person’s technology, but everyone’s! Technical issues will happen. Screens will freeze, people will get booted off the call, and some people won’t be able to connect. Plan ahead by sending attendees the call-in number as well as the video link.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
This is huge. Because everyone is in their home on a computer, there are a lot of distractions that can take your meeting off the rails. Communicate this etiquette before the meeting and stick to it yourself. These rules can be the difference between a productive virtual meeting and a giant waste of time.
Tip #4 Video On for Everyone
Start the meeting with your video on, and keep it on. Especially if you are hosting. We get so many visual communication cues from body language and facial expression. The beauty of a video call is that you can continue to use those cues. Video on also means no distractions. No getting up to refill your coffee or tuning out the meeting and doing other work. The only reason video should not be on is if someone doesn’t have the internet bandwidth to stream.
Tip #5 Pay Attention
Don’t multitask. Don’t check your email or play on your phone or work on something else. Stay present and focused on the meeting. If you’re running the meeting, keep the audience engaged. If someone doesn’t need to be on for the remainder of the meeting, excuse them. Keep discussion going and ask people for input.
For more dos and don’ts (including not wearing loud jewelry!) check out this article from Inc.
Productive Virtual Meetings Still need Human Connection
Humans need connection and bonds. Working from home can feel isolating and jumping on a video call can be awkward. Bring everyone together by making space for the regular office chit chat and checking in that happen during in person meetings. I promise this will lead to a more productive virtual meeting.
Tip #6 Start the Meeting with Connection
Plan the first 10 or 15 minutes of the meeting for chit chat. In person meetings usually start with some watercooler talk, and your virtual meetings can too. It helps break the ice and form the human connections we need to know, like, and trust. You can make your virtual meeting more productive by initiating individual one-minute check ins. If there are people who don’t know each other you can check in with them too.
Tip #7 End with Casual Conversation
At the end of the meeting, people linger and catch up for a little bit or make plans to work on a project. Make sure you leave space for others to do the same. Don’t schedule your next meeting right away. Give people time to connect and maintain that important human connection.
We’re all adjusting right now, but my hope is that people see the incredible value in virtual meetings. They save time, they can be recorded, and they are much easier to arrange. Virtual meetings aren’t always the best for everything, but they can be very useful. I’ve lead workshops, one-on-one consulting meetings, and weekly check-ins with my Zoom account.
If you want to jump on a virtual meeting with me to discuss your marketing or communications strategy, I’d be happy to chat. You can send me an email here Katie@followthewildpath.com.