Blog / Virtual Meetings Revisited
A few tips for making the most out of your video conferences
Despite the endless memes about how every one of them could be an email, the office meeting remains an essential means of communicating important information across your organization. But in the wake of the pandemic and general expansion of work-from-home programs, virtual meetings are becoming increasingly commonplace, making now the perfect time to review general business meeting best practices and update them to align with the 21st century and new features available for remote video conferencing.
Before we go any further though, it’s important to note that not all video conferencing software is made alike. Microsoft Teams and Zoom have plenty of overlap, but plenty of differences as well. So we’re going to focus on the meeting practices themselves, rather than specific features, although we do offer Teams Training (in conjunction with Mission: Computers) if you’re interested in more focused training.
Regardless of the application you choose, there are four main ways to help make virtual meetings as productive as possible:
- Be prepared
- Make attendees feel welcome
- Encourage engagement
- Take notes
Hopefully it will come as no surprise that proper preparation is essential for running a meeting, as it is for most things. Double-check your invites and responses to make sure key personnel are attending. You should also create an agenda to give your meeting structure and share it in advance so attendees can prepare themselves for what will be discussed and in what order. It also gives them a chance to think on the subject and prepare and questions or ideas they may have beforehand. Preparing responses to anticipated questions and concerns beforehand also goes a long to ensuring you’re using your meeting time effectively.
Make attendees feel welcome
It’s important to recognize differences in personality types between your employees. To be clear, we’re not talking about giving a speech formally recognizing introverts, just being cognizant that people are different and may have issues sharing ideas in group settings. It can sometimes be hard to manage group meetings, but if you notice an employee trying to speak up but they keep getting derailed, call on them directly. That’s one of the advantages of virtual meetings instead of audio conference calls; you can still pick up on some of those non-verbal cues we take for granted in face-to-face conversation to help make attendees feel like they’re contributing.
There’s a reason those aforementioned memes become so popular; too often business meetings are plodding, serious affairs. While this tone is certainly appropriate when delivering bad news like layoffs or a security breach, the general idea of meetings shouldn’t make your people grimace and yawn. In addition to asking questions throughout the meeting, get attendees to turn on their cameras as they join to make your meetings more personable and productive, and remember that they don’t have to be all business. If it’s going to be a long one, don’t just schedule occasional breaks, but include energizing activities like a 2-minute stretch or an online company game of Trivial Pursuit if the meeting crosses over the lunch hour.
You don’t have to keep actual meeting minutes (though it’s not necessarily a bad idea), but there’s no point in picking peoples brains about a project without keeping some kind of record of their opinions and recommendations. Share a notetaking document out to the meeting group so that everyone can keep track of their key takeaways. There are plenty of applications that are great for taking notes during virtual meetings, though Microsoft OneNote is easily one of the most well-known and gives everyone the ability to contribute to a shared note document as well as their own note library.
Some of this may seem elementary, but it’s always a good idea to revisit the basics, especially now when virtual meeting fatigue is setting in in the wake of the pandemic. Thanks to their digital online nature though, there are more options than ever to combat meeting fatigue, virtual or otherwise.
If you’d like to discuss setting up or enhancing your virtual conferencing software, or have any other general IT questions, please contact one of our experts today.
The TRINUS Team