Virtual meetings have become the new normal these days and will likely leave a lasting impact on the professional community. Due to the learning curve, we have forgiven hiccups in productivity caused by virtual meetings. However, eventually productivity will be expected to return to normal even with their increased prevalence. There are many steps we can take both as meeting organizers and attendees to ensure we are being respectful while maximizing productivity.
Don’t treat it as a license to multi-task – When using technology, we have grown heavily accustomed to jumping from app to app. It is extremely hard to break this habit, but most of us would never consider multi-tasking during an in-person meeting. Work on changing your mindset during virtual meetings and try to give them your full attention.
Use Video – Using video adds a level of accountability to the meeting and helps keep attendees’ focus. It is extremely disheartening to talk to a blank screen and using video shows co-workers that you are attentive and respectful of their input. This aids in boosting everyone’s self-esteem, increasing participation and productivity.
Test the equipment beforehand – Even if using the same software every day, things go bad. An overnight update, that wire you tripped on during lunch, slow internet, etc. No matter the reason, these problems at the very least are a time-waster, and at worst can be embarrassing to outside clients. This includes being familiar with the software’s features so you can get your information across flawlessly.
Minimize Background Noise – We have all been in that meeting with the barking dogs or crying kids in the background. Take meetings seriously and move to a space with limited distractions. This includes turning off notifications, if you can hear your computer’s chime, odds are everyone else can too. In a situation where it is impossible, just remember to mute your mic.
Especially for Organizers:
Check-In – You can’t be as aware of what people are dealing with in their personal lives when you aren’t seeing them casually every day. Give a chance at the beginning for team members to check in with each other. Many video apps have a breakout room feature which is great to allow for more intimate conversations, rather than updating an entire group one by one.
Face to Face – Humans get a lot of information from body language. Think back to that phone interview where an awkward silence sent your anxiety through the roof. Having a clear view of everyone’s face is key to gauge reactions and show emotions, adding a major level of engagement to a meeting. You can’t be afraid as the organizer to ask attendees to adjust lighting or camera locations.
Minimize Presentation Time – Meetings, whether in person or virtual, are there to be a discussion. A slide deck can easily be sent out in advance and reviewed. If you feel it is absolutely necessary to go through an entire presentation, try to get people involved as much as possible to avoid tune out.
Equalize Participation – Not a problem exclusive to virtual meetings, there are always those who tend to dominate a discussion. In virtual meetings this can be especially detrimental, with the quieter attendees falling into a pattern of tuning out and skating by in the background. It is important to keep everyone involved, even if that means calling on specific individuals for input.
Overall, don’t be so hard on yourself. Virtual meetings are a learned skill after all. By treating them as close to a real meeting as possible, your team will be back to their old selves in no time.
For help finding what virtual meeting software may be right for your business, contact the experts at INT.