5 Ways to Lead Effective Virtual Meetings With Your Remote Teams
Keep cameras on, set agendas and other tactics you should employ to make your meeting efficient and impactful.
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With people forced to stay home for their safety but still needing to continue work, virtual meetings have become the main form of communication between leaders and their employees. Of course, even before the pandemic, most companies have been conducting virtual meetings in order to avoid being hindered by geography, especially in a growing global market. However, virtual meetings also pose problems. Lack of proper equipment such as a good internet connection can cause lags and miscommunication between parties. Staying focused is also a concern. It's a leader's responsibility to ensure that each team member has everything they need to ensure the effectiveness of their virtual meetings.
1. Make sure that everyone has their camera on (don't just use audio).
Videoconferences are a lot more effective than audio conferences. A recent study by Gigaom found that "87 percent of remote workers feel more connected through the use of videoconferencing." This ensures that every person in your virtual meeting is focused and engaged. Without videos, participants might multitask or zone out of the meeting. Because they are "on camera," people tend to stay alert and focused. You'll get more productivity when you can all monitor each other. Make having their camera on mandatory.
2. Connect with your people with empathy, EQ and genuine concern.
Virtual meetings can often appear cold and detached. To avoid this, you need to show empathy for your people. It's OK to show genuine concern for them. In this way, you can connect with them. Acknowledge everyone in the virtual room, not just during a roll-call at the beginning of the meeting but also during the meeting itself. Let everyone talk so that they can share their ideas as well (we'll talk more about this later). When you allow them to share their ideas, it shows that you value their input.
Also, make sure that disrespect is not tolerated during your meeting. If it appears someone is being disrespected, step in and mediate; emphasize the need for respect. Also, if you're meeting with other people from different time zones, consider their time zones as well. Set a meeting time that is convenient for everyone. For instance, if they're only needed for a specific topic, allow them to stay only for that part of the meeting. This way, you show your people that you care for their well being as well.
3. Ask if there's anything they need.
Make sure to ask your people about any problems they might be encountering. While it might seem surprising, not everyone has everything they need to have an effective virtual meeting. For instance, if they don't have a desktop or laptop setup, they'll be forced to use their phones, which create more background noise. Background noise is distracting. If there's a way that your company can provide such items for your employees, with the proviso that the equipment would only be used for work when they are at home, consider doing so. Most likely, they only need one or two items to complete their setups, like the camera or a dedicated microphone and headset. If that's not possible and your employees have the ability to purchase their own, consider giving them recommendations on what equipment to get.
4. Give people an opportunity to share their thoughts.
Despite the need to stay on topic, make sure that you let others share their thoughts. As the leader, it's your job to facilitate the meeting so that everybody stays on topic, but give each individual two to three minutes to ask questions, raise concerns, provide updates, etc. As a facilitator, you coordinate the meetings, so when more extroverted individuals begin to dominate the meeting, step in and direct inquiries towards the quieter individuals. This way, you can get input from everyone. It also allows you to ensure that everyone is really participating and engaging.
5. Set an agenda with an outline, and appoint someone as the timekeeper.
In order to stay focused and on point, it's important that you set an agenda so you can keep track of the meeting. Preparation is the key. Before you set up the meeting, make sure that you already have an outline of what will be discussed and how long it might take your team to discuss it. Set a time limit for each topic of discussion. Furthermore, if you think you won't be able to keep track, appoint someone else to act as a timekeeper so you can focus on facilitating the meeting.
While face-to-face meetings may still be better, virtual meetings exist to allow you to reach your people across the globe. These five tips will help you ensure high productivity and efficiency during your virtual meetings.