Follow These Virtual Meeting Best Practices from Start to Finish for the Best Experience!
How have your virtual meetings been going? Have you come across some problems making the leap from in-person meetings to virtual ones?
The transition is a lot harder than you would expect. And if your small business was suddenly thrust into working from home, it can be even harder.
We want your small business to be successful at working remotely. Frontier Marketing’s team works from home, and many of our meetings take place online. So, the lessons we’ve learned can help you.
We’ve put together a list of virtual meeting best practices to follow for a successful meeting! Keep reading to see how to go through your virtual meeting – from start to finish!
Before Your Meeting
Your virtual meeting actually begins before the meeting starts. Some of the best virtual meeting best practices happen before the meeting.
Here’s what you should do to prepare ahead of time:
Set the Ground Rules with Your Team
If conducting a virtual meeting is new to you, then it’s probably new to your team. Setting ground rules or coming to an agreement on virtual meeting etiquette can help a lot.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Prohibit phones during the meeting.
- Send the agenda for the meeting ahead of time.
- Know which people will be in the meeting via video or call-in.
- Tell everyone to mute their microphone when not speaking.
This agreement between you and your team saves a lot of hassles and enforces a lot of best practices before you even begin.
Find the Perfect Spot
Just because you can have virtual meetings anywhere doesn’t mean you should have them anywhere.
You’re going to want to find an area that is quiet and clutter-free. Doing so will reduce the amount of background noise. Having a neutral background behind you also takes out any possible distractions your team may have.
It’s also a good idea to tell whoever is in the house with you that you are in a meeting. That way, you can be sure there will be outside interruptions during that time.
Remember, you want to keep the setting as professional as possible. When leading virtual teams, you want to ensure they know it’s a work meeting. A professional setting is one of the cues that lets them know it is.
Test Your Technology
Have you ever had technology fail you? It happens a lot. Technology is not an absolute failsafe. And while it does happen, you can take measures to avoid that ahead of time.
Therefore, we recommend trying a test run with a friend or colleague before your first meeting.
This way, you can work out any kinks with your microphone and video quality. It also helps you familiarize yourself with the program you’re using.
Dress for Success
Again, you want to project the atmosphere of professionalism. Studies have shown dressing for your job signals the brain to switch to “work mode.”
It’s going to be tempting to stay in pajamas for the meeting. But if you resist that temptation, it shows your teammates that you are ready for work, even from home.
During the Meeting
Now that you have set everything up and you’re ready to go, it’s time for the actual remote meeting. While the content of the meeting may change, these virtual meeting best practices should not.
Punctuality is important. We recommend, if possible, being in the meeting a few minutes early.
Some programs, like Zoom, allow you to set up a waiting room for your employees. But as a host, you can enter the meeting as you wish.
If you are on time or early, it sets the tone for the meeting. It shows that this is a work-related meeting, and your team should behave accordingly.
Speaking in front of people might not be your favorite thing. In fact, it’s one area most people wish to avoid. A byproduct of speaking in front of people is the tendency to speed up and slur over our words.
While this might be troublesome during an in-person meeting, it is worse online. Why?
There will generally be a lag in the video. So, when you say something, it might be 2-3 seconds before your team hears it. So, if you go slowly, it will be harder for a teammate to miss something on the other end.
Explain the Objectives at the Start
You want to explain to your team exactly why you’re meeting. If you don’t, there could be miscommunication, and that can be harder to clear up later.
Explaining the objectives also keeps you focused during your meeting. This is especially important during virtual meetings because it’s often tougher to stay focused than during a regular in-person meeting.
Eliminating distractions before the meeting helps. But staying on target with your objectives makes sure the meeting doesn’t get derailed.
Utilize Your Technology
The worst thing you can do is turn your meeting into a lecture. It immediately turns people away and reduces engagement. How do you stop this from happening?
One way is to provide visual aids by displaying your presentation or any documents you’re referencing. Even though you may have emailed these visual aids ahead of time, it also helps to present them yourself in the meeting.
You can do this by sharing your screen. Many of the programs available let you share what you’re seeing on your computer screen with everyone else in the meeting.
Simply pull up the document or presentation on your computer and share your screen with your team. It will help them follow along and stay engaged as you speak.
Mute Your Microphone When Not Speaking
Your microphone could be picking up background noise you’re not noticing. While you may have gotten used to the noise around your home, your team will probably find it distracting.
So, make sure you mute your microphone when someone else is speaking. It cuts down on that background noise. It also eliminates unnecessary distractions that could take away from the meeting.
Engage in Active Listening
Even though you are connected through virtual communication, there is still a disconnect.
Face-to-face communication takes away a lot of distractions and keeps you focused on the person in front of you. Virtual communication can give you more distractions.
For example, noises in your house can deter your attention. Or, you can give in to the temptation to zone out or get lost in your own thoughts.
It’s easy to get distracted if you don’t know what to do during a virtual meeting. Active listening can help prevent this.
Here are some ways to practice active listening:
- Take notes on what the person is saying.
- Repeat what the person said to ensure you understood.
- Comment and provide feedback about what was said.
- Use non-verbal cues, such as nodding and smiling.
During your meeting, it can be tempting to work on other things, especially when someone else is talking. After all, you’re on your computer, and your work is sitting right there.
One of the most often neglected virtual meeting best practices is being present mentally. If you’re multitasking on other work, you’re not actually in the meeting. You want to give everyone your full attention so that nothing is missed.
If you’re constantly getting up and walking around or clearly working on something else, it can be disorienting to the other participants. Chores and other work can wait for your meeting to finish.
Likewise, if you’re using your phone for the video meeting, make sure you’re not walking around with it during the meeting.
Once you have your phone positioned where you want it, keep it there for the meeting. If you get up and walk around with your phone, it can make the other participants dizzy.
Use a System for Calling on Teammates
Because of the lag in video across multiple platforms, it can sometimes be difficult to ask questions on a video call. Everyone might not hear another person asking a question, and things can get lost in translation.
To stop this from happening, we recommend coming up with a way to call on people who might have questions. Your system can be laid out from the start so that your team knows about it.
If everyone is on video, you can do something as simple as having teammates raise their hands if they have questions or comments.
But what do you do if you have teammates who are calling into the meeting? Is there a good conference call protocol to follow?
One way we recommend is to call on teammates individually at the end of the meeting in alphabetical order. Go down the line of your workers and see if they have anything to add.
After the Meeting
The meeting doesn’t stop once it’s over. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind after the virtual call:
When you schedule your meeting, also schedule about 10-15 minutes after the meeting to be available. That way, your team can contact with any questions or issues they have thought of after the meeting.
Send Out All Relevant Materials
Did you give your team a presentation? Or were there reports that you went over? If so, remember to send those to your team.
Clarity is super important for virtual meetings. You want your team to have the best information possible.
Emailing or telling your team where to find these materials solves a lot of problems up front, which saves you time.
Ask for Feedback
Finally, this is most likely a new process for you and your team. Ask them how it went. What went well? What could be improved upon?
Your team should feel comfortable in these meetings. Taking their feedback will only help you grow as you conduct your next meeting.
Do You Want Help with Your Virtual Meetings?
Frontier Marketing is here for you! Whether it’s your first time conducting a meeting, or you want to see how to improve, reach out to us! You can message us on Facebook with any questions you have or read our other blogs on remote work for more advice.