Switching to virtual team meetings is a challenging task, mainly if your team is used to running face-to-face meetings. Even though there are many tools on the market, which make it incredibly easy to set up virtual meetings, managing them needs some practice. The following tips & tricks will help you think about the virtual meetings from another point of view and show you the way how to run the virtual team meetings more effectively.
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Prepare an Agenda in Advance
Not only virtual meetings but all meetings shouldn’t start without a strict agenda, which should be sent over to the participants in advance. Having a written list of things to discuss helps the participants prepare for the meeting as well as have a clear goal of what will be discussed. Don’t forget to send the agenda to all of the participants (ideally upload it to a shared folder, so that’s easily accessible for the entire team) adequately in advance so that the participants have some time to go through it. Furthermore, ask the participants to prepare the questions (if they have any). Every virtual meeting should be strictly time-framed. Don’t organize meetings, which are due to start at a specific time with no clear end. The reason is that people tend to prolong the meeting even if it’s unnecessary and some participants might miss other meetings.
Respect Time Zones, Working Hours and Invite Relevant Participants
When scheduling a virtual meeting, take into account the time zones of the participants. They wouldn’t be happy to be at a meeting in the evenings when they’re used to having dinner. Besides this, respect their working hours! For sure, there might be some exceptional cases when the meeting has to run out of the working hours of many participants, but this should happen only occasionally. Last but not least, invite only relevant people. It happens so often that there are too many irrelevant participants attending the meeting even though the discussed agenda isn’t much related to their work.
Create & Apply Rules for Running Virtual Meetings
Discuss the rules in your team which should apply for every virtual meeting so that you keep the meeting’s flow smooth and without unnecessary breaks & discussions. One of the standard practices is to ask the attendees to mute their lines until they are given a floor. Doing so, eliminate the distracting background noise, which might be very annoying. Another rule could be, e.g. to ask the participants to connect to the virtual meeting five minutes before the start
to check if the audio (and video) works. You can also dedicate this time to some small talks. Plus, don’t forget to encourage your team members to say whether the meeting has been productive or if there is anything the team could do to improve the virtual meetings. Only with the feedback, you will find out what works and what needs to be improved.
Choose a Moderator & Write a Summary After the Meeting
Managing a virtual meeting needs some practice, especially if many people are attending. Therefore, make sure that there is always one person, a moderator, responsible for managing the meeting (introducing the agenda, giving the floor to the participants, leading the meeting in the correct way and similar). Plus, this person (or even anyone else) should be responsible for making notes during the meeting, compiling them together and sending them to all of the participants as a summary after the meeting. This process will ensure that the issues will be discussed, as well as the next steps will be clearly stated in a written form.
Test & Choose a suitable Technology/Tool
There are many different technologies and tools out there suitable for running virtual meetings. Some of them are sufficient for classic video calls; others have some extensions, which your team might welcome. Write down the requirements you expect from the tool and invest your time in testing various tools to find out which one suits your team’s needs best. Take into account the following factors: Video quality, screen sharing possibility, the limit of participants, price, etc. If the tool has some complicated features, it would also be a great idea to send a tutorial to your team or prepare a short training to make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows how to work with the tool.
Tip: Aren’t you sure which software tool you should use for running virtual meetings. Try out the following software tools:
If you go through these points and start implementing the suggested ideas, you will get the meetings to completely another level. Running a productive virtual meeting will not only save your business time and money, but you’ll also see that your team’s productivity will increase since the team members won’t be tired of long and non-perspective meetings.