Virtual meetings are a necessity. From remote employee to those on the road it’s no longer an “if”, it’s a “when” these meetings need to occur. Here’s some advice on how to hold the best virtual meeting, avoid difficulties, and what you need to be successful to bridge employees and ideas that aren’t in the same room.
Some of the pros and cons of a virtual meeting include:
- No travel costs
- Software can be inexpensive
- Bring together employees who are remote or travel
- Meet employees who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see one another “face-to-face”
- Negotiating multiple time differences
- Technical difficulties
- Compatibility and speed issues for participants who aren’t in office settings
- Managing participant distractions.
How to hold an effective virtual meeting and not fall prey to the cons:
For the leader of the meeting:
- Have a goal
- Establish rules or expectations for each meeting
- For example, can everyone speak freely or will there be a speaker who will dictate the conversation? Does everyone need to have their camera on at all times? Should people mute their phones while others are speaking?
- Avoid distractions: ask that participants not multi-task
- Assign roles to participants such as timekeeper, note taker, tech support, etc.
- Create a meeting agenda and:
- Allow people to submit questions ahead of time
- Include who will be talking about what
- Any relevant documents to the meeting
- And finally: end with what’s next
- Who’s responsible for following up on each item or task
- When any deliverables are due
- When the next meeting or check-in will be
From a more technical standpoint, it’s important to navigate technical issues ahead of time. Sending login or event information a day or more in advance will allow attendees to test the log in and download any necessary software. The extra time will also allow them to ask any technical questions or receive IT help before the meeting ensuring fewer late entrances.
Remember, if nothing else, that this a meeting with other human beings. Engage in casual conversation before conducting the meeting to make attendees less nervous and feel included. Ask questions to make sure that everyone on the call understood the goal, and don’t forget to follow-up on questions or further needs once the call is finished.
Choosing the right online meeting tool
Choosing the right tool is just as important as remembering to make an agenda, sending out an early invite, and running the meeting as a leader. To find the best tool for you and your company, answer these questions for yourself:
What is the key functionality I need for this remote meeting to be successful?
Besides seamless cloud connectivity for audio and video functionality there are a few things to consider. If you need to be able to see everyone, try video conferencing software. However, a conference call will work just fine if you need to connect people who are on the road. Do you need to work collaboratively? If so, try a tool that allows you edit in real time like OneDrive. Do you need to present information? Try a solution like Cisco, Microsoft, or Zoom that allow for screen-sharing. Understanding that each meeting is different and the each virtual conferencing tool will suit different needs will ensure your meetings accomplish your goals.
Given the current need for remote working surrounding the Covid-19 concerns, companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom are allowing you to try their solutions as an extended free trial. Take advantage of the lower cost to entry and try one of these solutions before you invest. HB’s Collaboration team can help you decide which tools best suit your team and environment if you’re currently feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.
How many people need to be involved in your remote meeting?
The amount of people in any given meeting depends entirely on your individual need. A meeting can be as small as a one-on-one, as large as one to many, or as collaborative as many to many. However, choosing the right tool for the number of participants is important, some can’t handle large amounts of participants, while others can.
How can technology make online meeting more efficient?
As you evaluate your tech needs, keep in mind features such as screen sharing, stream-lining processes, accessible information, and recording capabilities. Alex Bisset, HB’s VP of Platform Strategy said, “Supportive tech can play a key role in making the user experience most effective and natural. For example, a proper headset or USB-based microphone provides superior audio quality for remote users. Or, a high-quality external webcam makes desktop video more accessible and adds human awareness. A properly sized subscription and solution enables collaboration anytime, anywhere.”
If you’re unsure of which meeting tool will suit your organization best, companies like Cisco, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom all allow for free trials of their product. Try them out, or, if you want more guidance, contact HB’s Collaboration Team and have Alex take you through the decision-making process. Help safeguard your company during the uncertain times surrounding Covid-19 and try virtual conferencing.