How To keep virtual meetings and conferences productive

September 7, 2022

For many workers, working from home is the new standard, whether out of need or desire. In-person meetings are being replaced by teleconferences, web meetings, and video conferences. Since most people prefer face-to-face engagement, this can be a challenging transition. However, cloud-based meeting and collaboration apps are assisting in bridging the communication gap.

Working smarter, not harder, is crucial in these dynamic times. In order to manage a remote meeting, you must first overcome internal rejection and the worry that you would be less effective. It is well known that managers prefer in-person meetings over virtual ones because the former are thought to be more fruitful. In general, this is accurate. However, there is always room for improvement in terms of both the method and results of remote cooperation.

When you hold a meeting via video conferencing as opposed to holding one at your office, certain rules apply. You should consider a remote meeting to be an ordinary business gathering without the benefit of being able to see and hear everyone clearly the entire time. So how do you conduct business when face-to-face communication is necessary for clarity?

We compiled a comprehensive list of some remote meeting golden guidelines to assist you and create an engaging and productive environment. We also asked remote managers to contribute their experiences and personal accounts of distant cooperation.

Challenges of online meetings

But first let us discuss some of the major challenges faced in online meetings. Online meetings may be more informal than face-to-face meetings because participants can participate from any convenient place. Although quite practical, virtual meetings have their own set of difficulties. Think about the following:

The strain of managing a remote work environment might get in the way. Some employees perform at their peak when working at a desk. Their productivity will suffer as a result of the change to a remote work environment, and they will be unable to concentrate in online meetings.

When participating from home, there are many distractions available. Small distractions like pets, household noise, or the appearance of chaos can cause a member to lose focus during an online conference. Online meetings are frequently regarded as ineffective. For them, it is an inconvenience that they must endure for a considerable amount of time, depriving them of time that they would want to devote to completing their various tasks.

Before the meeting begins, you need a great stack of online meeting tools

Connection, cooperation, and feedback are the three key components of the ideal online meetings. By upholding these requirements, you can keep the meeting productive while increasing participant engagement. These three criteria, which are essential for remote meetings, are only supported by a select few products on the market such as Miro or Google solutions like Docs and Hangouts, etc.

You can use a mixture of tools at the same time, each of which corresponds to a certain activity yet makes the others work perfectly together. For instance, you can use a corporate phone system or conferencing programme like Skype to establish connection, pair it with a real-time collaboration tool like InVision to work on designs, and utilise a variety of methods to gather input – polls, chats, and IM. In this situation, you are able to construct countless combinations and modify them to suit your meeting requirements. Browse Capterra’s necessary assortment of well-known tools or look through Product Hunt Collections to see what’s new and popular at the greatest price.

The most advised option is a video conferencing platform. Video mimics in-person meetings to increase productivity and foster a sense of community among employees. Numerous video conferencing applications are offered, including Zoom, Slack, and Google Hangouts. Ask attendees to use a device with a camera so that others may see them throughout the meeting. Choose one that is compatible with the hardware and installed software of the participants.

Have Backup Plan

Encourage attendees to test the videoconferencing or meeting software before the event. Make sure your setup is functioning properly as well. Use the first few minutes to check that everyone is connected and can see, hear, and participate in the discussion without any problems. Then repeat the process for every additional tool that will be utilised at the meeting. This is obviously done to ensure that the technical issues have been resolved and that the meeting goes as planned.

You might be able to send a code for participants to submit as they join and turn on the video camera. However, being well-versed in your hardware and software can help you use your tools more efficiently and find solutions to issues more quickly.

Make it a habit to dial or log on at least five minutes beforehand so you have time to set up the facility or switch to a backup plan. Rehearsals for video recording should be done beforehand as well because they can overtax the computer’s operating memory.

Create a shared space

What is the main advantage of a real meeting? Face-to-face communication occurs as a result of occupying the same place. However, a common area is not the same as a meeting room. Additionally, it incorporates shared flip charts, conversations, screens, and online whiteboards. The presence of remote employees in a meeting is positively influenced by a variety of shared venues. For instance, they can monitor product development while simultaneously adding notes and updates to Gitlab project management boards using Skype’s screen-share feature.

Plan the agenda carefully and share it in advance

Avoid wasting time during the meeting because it takes work to get together for a remote meeting. Make a plan with a list of things to cover and follow it. It is preferable to distribute the schedule in advance to those who will participate so that everyone can get ready.

It is crucial that the facilitator research potential meeting topics in order to build an agenda that will be sent with the meeting invitation. A half-page list of essential issues should suffice. Facilitators must be realistic about the number of subjects that can be presented without overwhelming participants.

Ensure the right people are in the meeting

Only those who are relevant to the subject should participate in online meetings. Do not invite attendees from unrelated departments; only those who are essential to the agenda should be invited. This ensures that the other members of your team can continue with their individual tasks and thus continue to be productive. You should be careful who you invite if you wish to speak with outside parties, such as investors and potential customers. The best emails to send your invitations to can be found by using a contact search tool.

Due to the capabilities of the technology and the ability of each participant to contribute to the conversation, it is challenging to organise a remote meeting with a big number of participants. When you are successful at remote management, start by practising with smaller groups of individuals and then gradually raise the size. A excellent place to start is with 1 to 10 participants because there is less pressure to participate in conversation if there are many individuals around.

Establish “the rules of the road”

Set the ground rules and distribute them to participants before the meeting, or schedule it for a longer time period, regardless of whether it is a brainstorming session, project update, approval session, or any other type of recurring meeting. Unmanageable meetings don’t encourage innovation or productivity in your company. They typically result in chaos, when everyone is speaking at once or someone is beginning to take control of the discourse.

By stating the desired objective before the meeting, the facilitator can focus the group’s attention. Everyone who attends the meeting should be on time, be prepared, and pay attention the entire time. Everyone in attendance should also be aware that common courtesy standards apply, such as not talking over other people and utilising the mute button when not speaking.

Multitasking can only reduce your efficiency in online meetings, which can be fairly fluid. Different people can work on the slides, take notes, or monitor the conversation for feedback. You may ensure that the meeting goes smoothly by having several people work on various duties.

Record the meeting

Not merely for record-keeping needs, but also for your own benefit, it is crucial to retain a recording of the meeting. Here are some compelling reasons to document your online meeting:

It keeps everybody informed. This includes attendees who were unable to attend owing to time zone differences and absentees. In case you need to discuss the meeting later, you and your attendees can review the materials. In order to fill in any information gaps, latecomers or attendees who might have missed something can listen to the recording. It’s crucial that you let everyone in on the fact that the meeting is being videotaped. It is your method of obtaining their approval, and the prevalence of online meeting platforms helps.

These are just among some of the tips you can implement in your online meetings to enhance productivity, and achieve optimum results. At Emirates HR, we focus on assisting companies streamline their HR processes for maximizing outputs. Whether it is to help your organization adapt to changing times, or a more scientific approach and incorporation of technology to aid organizational processes.