How to Make Virtual Meetings More Professional and Productive

Adjusting to the new normal of working remotely has presented a myriad of challenges for workers across the globe. Meetings have moved from boardrooms to Slack rooms. Distractions have come to compete for attention during Zoom and team conference calls. And the simple comfort of home often saps the concentration of your staff. Rather than throwing in the towel, evolve yourself to be the kind of leader who is equipped to dealing with anything and everything that working from home might throw your way. So, pour some piping hot java into your customized work from home coffee mug and check out these helpful tips for getting the most out of virtual meetings.

Check Your Tech 

Making sure you have the right technology is the first step in holding successful virtual meetings. Which software you choose is up to you, but making sure employees have the same software and know how to use it is crucial in ensuring productive meetings go off without a hitch. Picking reliable telecommunication software, like Zoom or Teams, is the first step in holding virtual meetings. It may also be a good idea to start meetings a few minutes later than planned just in case employees have trouble using the software or joining the sessions. 

Set the Tone 

Subordinates will naturally follow the lead of the most senior person in a meeting. Treat virtual meetings as you would any in-person meeting. If the boss shows up wearing pajamas and cracking jokes, people may think the meeting isn’t overly important and zone out, attend to other tasks, or disrupt the group with their own jokes. If, however, the boss presents the same professionalism as they do in-office, employees will be more likely to take the meeting seriously. Overcoming the inherent informality of remote work and virtual meetings is crucial to maintaining productivity and communication effectively. 

The first step in setting the tone is to make sure you look the part. Adhering to a“dress for success” policy may seem a blasé concept at this point in your career, but when you’re working from home your employees will take you and your meetings more seriously if you present yourself as you would in person. Go through your whole morning routine and put on your work clothes before your next meeting as a silent reminder that you and your employees need to be ready to work. 

Next, make sure your environment looks as professional as you do. Find a quiet, low-traffic area of your home where your partner, kids, and pets won’t intrude. Pointing your camera at a blank, neutrally colored wall or bookcase will prevent your people from being distracted by your home, belongings, or windows. Better still, a printed backdrop or banner emblazoned with your company’s name and logo or motivational slogans will simultaneously prevent distractions and serve as a constant reminder of what your employees are there to do. 

Rules of Engagement

It’s easy to get distracted when working from home, so you may need to temporarily change the way you run your meetings to find success in the virtual arena. Send out any presentations and other relevant documents before your meeting so attention isn’t torn between reading and listening. Next, establish a clear agenda and schedule for each meeting. Concrete goals and timelines help employees focus on the task at hand, while open-ended meetings with ambiguous goals can be invitations to space out and stop listening. Try sending out company notepads as well for note taking. It’s another subtle reminder that it’s time to work.

Assigning roles to employees is a great way to keep people engaged in meeting discussions. For instance, having someone facilitate and guide the conversation ensures their attention and involvement and also helps to minimize side conversations and tangents that take the group off track. Making one of your employees a designated note taker keeps them focused on the meeting, and you can even assign someone the role of timekeeper. 

If your meetings are too large to assign individual roles, consider looking into other methods for driving engagement. For instance, many video conferencing platforms let you send multiple-choice polls to meeting participants, perfect for gauging group opinions and making sure everyone is on the same page. If your chosen platform doesn’t offer these features, there are a variety of smartphone applications that perform the same function at little to no cost.

Virtual Reality

Though there’s no substitute for traditional in-person meetings, video conferencing is the best option available for millions of workers across the country. And while we’ll return to the normal course of business eventually, virtual meetings will only become more commonplace as the technology improves. Learning how to get the most value out of your virtual meetings will be crucial to your success in the future.

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