Check this out: 55 million virtual meetings happen every week in the U.S. That’s a lot of opportunities to foul up or improve your meeting processes on the digital screen. If you’ve ever sat through a terrible virtual meeting; no agenda, a free-for-all, late meetings, technical glitches—this blog is for you.
Top 4 Ways to Improve Your Virtual Meetings
If you ran bad meetings before the pandemic, the chances are high that turning things virtual probably didn’t make things better. But there are things you can do right now to make your next meeting better. For example:
1. Question Everything About Your Meeting
- First, what is the agenda for the meeting? Did you develop the agenda in advance and send it to participants? You should.
- Second, what is your goal for the meeting? Communicate that to participants in advance along with the agenda. This will help end the practice of having meetings for meetings sake—we’ve all participated in a few of those!
- Third, be brutal in your analysis of who is participating in the meeting. Does everyone on your list have to participate? What is their role in the meeting? Sometimes spending a few minutes on instant messaging is better than inviting everyone to a half hour (or longer) meeting.
2. (Please) Keep Your Meeting on Track
- How fair is it to the people that showed up on time to start the meeting late because one or two people aren’t on the call yet? Start your meetings on time and have a plan if a key participant is late. Keep moving forward, avoid tangents, and relentlessly run your meeting effectively.
- Figure out the engagement thing. How often do people interrupt each other in your virtual meetings? Do you want feedback throughout your meeting or only at certain times? How will people get your attention (Chat? Raised hand? Going off mute?) if they want to speak?
- In an effort to stay on track, add the idea of the “parking lot” to your meeting. Any tangents not relevant to the goal of the meeting should be shunted aside and saved for later. If you’re the facilitator of the meeting, work with someone on your team to write down these tangent topics so you can circle back to them later—perhaps even in a different meeting.
3. Keep Your Meetings Fresh—and Short
If your virtual meeting runs an hour or longer, you may lose your audience.
Short, punchy meetings are better than one long drone in virtual space. Keep your meetings fresh by having an icebreaker then using videoconferencing tools to engage your participants.
You can use a polling feature, for example, if the group is a big one. Or, if you’re spit balling ideas, use the whiteboard feature to write ideas down. Also set the meeting expectations at the beginning to remind people of your goal and agenda.
4. Test Your Technology Before the Meeting
How many meetings have you tried to hold where the video conferencing software has hiccups? Even the largest platforms can suffer from glitches. Too, make sure your internet connectivity is in great shape that day. Make use of some of the great security features out there, such as the waiting room where you can literally do a head count and manually let people into the “room” before the meeting starts. Have a backup plan, perhaps where everyone dials in by phone if there are problems with the video link.
At Prosum, we want every meeting to be powerfully effective. While these are just some of our top tips, we work with companies and individuals who use these and other techniques to maximize their productivity. If you’re struggling in an environment that’s less than productive, we can help you find a better fit. For employers, we have top talent waiting in the wings to help you improve your efficiency. Call on us. We can help.