By Fellow, the (virtual) meeting productivity app where teams gather to build collaborative agendas, record decisions, and keep each other accountable.
In today’s working climate, it is likely that you are now working remotely. And while you might prefer face-to-face interaction, we all need to adapt to our current working conditions.
Virtual meetings can (believe it or not!) be just as engaging as getting together in person. It’s simply a matter of preparation and shifting our perspective to have an open attitude towards them.
As managers, one of the biggest challenges we face is finding a way to keep employees engaged during virtual meetings.
In light of this major challenge, here are the tools and information you need to run productive meetings remotely:
1. Share a Set of Virtual Meeting Guidelines
Before you and your team get used to virtual meetings, you must share a set of virtual meeting guidelines. Just because you now work from home does not mean that you should forget meeting etiquette.
Firstly, and arguably most importantly, make it very clear that punctuality is important. Connecting many people from different locations can be difficult to coordinate and it would be disrespectful to take up valuable time waiting for participants to join.
A good rule of thumb for effective remote meetings is for everyone to mute their mics, except when they feel it is their turn to speak.
But it’s also a good idea to ask your group to turn on their cameras so that you can see each other’s facial expressions and connect on more of a personal level.
Finally, a smart way to interact during a meeting without interrupting the person who is speaking is to use a chat function if one is available.
2. Collaborate on a Meeting Agenda
The meeting agenda is the backbone of any meeting. It outlines each topic and how much time can be allocated to each part of the meeting.
It’s important to use feedback from the group to create and collaborate on a meeting agenda that will effectively cover all important points that need to be touched on.
Make sure that you are sending the agenda in advance so that there is time for everyone to prepare and so that any suggestions can be brought forward.
Using a meeting agenda app like Fellow will promote effective remote meetings because it encourages everyone to add their own talking points. And it also encourages everyone to come prepared to discuss other people’s ideas and agenda items.
Preparing an agenda in advance and sharing it with your team will ensure an effective remote meeting.
3. Make Time for Social Connection
Working remotely means that you should take any opportunity to connect with colleagues and let everyone know that their (virtual) presence is felt.
Using remote meeting icebreakers or casually catching up with your team before getting into the meeting agenda is going to show them that you have a genuine interest in how they’re doing.
According to Inc’s post on tips for conducting virtual meetings, it’s effective to take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to connect with your colleagues:
“…there’s a tendency in virtual meetings to launch right into the task, which can negatively affect relationship building.”
It is especially important to continue building your working relationships. The stronger those relationships, the stronger your communication will be.
Because working remotely means physical separation, make the effort to make everyone feel united as a group and up-to-date with one another.
4. Assign Meeting Roles
Assigning meeting roles will keep your team organized, more productive, and more engaged.
You can keep this engagement going by rotating the roles of timekeeper, facilitator, and notetaker. That way, your group can sense their contribution and will feel more involved.
In defining specific roles and expectations for those roles, your employees will feel motivated to fulfill their responsibilities and come through for their colleagues.
5. Assign Action Items & Follow up after the Meeting
Don’t forget to send a follow-up email after your virtual meeting that recaps the decisions and next steps. This will reinforce the importance of the meeting and will drive outcome-oriented results.
Finally, it will be of great value to you and your team if you create and maintain an action log of all assigned action items. That way, you can hold your team accountable. And you can stay on top of what action items are assigned, by when, and by who.
Remember that being outcome-oriented is crucial to the success of your virtual meetings.
One of the biggest challenges that managers face is finding a way to keep employees engaged during virtual meetings. If your team is running into this, refer back to this guide as a reminder of the best practices to run engaging virtual meetings!