With more people working from home and global partnerships becoming more common, technology has innovated to ensure we can communicate remotely. Even within the same building physical meetings are less essential now as developments in technology, such as videoconferencing and data sharing, have increased the popularity of virtual meetings. But how do you get the most out of these new communication tools to ensure you have effective virtual meetings? Here are five quick tips.
1. Test the equipment before your meeting
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to dial into a video conference or share some data and encountering technical problems. Most tools are fairly straightforward to use but problems can occur if, for example, something is using all your bandwidth, resulting in video that lags. Check the equipment before your meeting or ask everyone to arrive ten minutes early so you have some time to iron out any problems.
2. Meet and greet your guests
Just because you’re meeting virtually doesn’t mean you have to do anything differently. OK, you can’t physically shake hands in a video conference but you can welcome everyone as they arrive and exchange a few pleasantries before you start the meeting proper. Many people mute all but the main speaker’s microphone – try to avoid this, as virtual meetings flow much more naturally when everyone can interact, and you may well find you miss the humorous asides and banter!
3. Meetings across time zones
Perhaps the biggest issue with virtual meetings is if your call spans the globe. It may be late morning for you but your colleagues on the other side of the world may have to stay up late to take the call. If they are required to be working in the small hours regularly simply to attend meetings, consider alternating the times so you are all inconvenienced at some point. This small step will go a long way towards developing team spirit and avoiding people feeling bitter about late night meetings.
4. Ban working during meetings!
During virtual meetings – especially where staff are working from their desk or home computer – there’s often the temptation to answer a few emails, do some Skype messaging or even catch up on Facebook during the call – after all, no one can see you! Make it a strict rule that everyone focuses on the meeting and no other work is done – and impose some consequences (such as organising the next meeting) if anyone is caught out!
5. Keep in touch
Finally, encourage your team to keep in touch with each other outside the virtual meetings. If you were all working in the same building you’d meet at the water cooler or chat during breaks – so ask staff to email or message each other regularly to keep the relationships building.
For information on tools for hosting effective virtual meetings give us a call on 0118 336 0010.