How To Lead A Virtual MeetingPublié le 23 March 2020
Work meetings are important. They provide the opportunity to share important information, discuss ongoing projects and connect with our colleagues. Meetings also take up a tremendous amount of time, with one estimate concluding that office workers have an average of 62(!) meetings per month, requiring 5 hours of their time every week. When adapting to work from home arrangements and leading your virtual team, such unproductive habits need to be avoided with virtual meetings and video conferencing. This is why it’s important to learn how to lead a virtual meeting that is as efficient and effective as possible.
Explore Your Options
With virtual offices, remote workers and flexible work-from-home schedules all becoming more common, many different virtual meeting and video conferencing options have been developed. Office leaders can choose from Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Video, Google Hangouts and many more. Each of these software programs and apps have their own advantages, disadvantages and capabilities. It’s important to consider the cost, accessibility, reliability and ease of use. Business leaders need to take the time to experiment with various video conferencing options in order to best determine what option is best for their team. Thankfully many offer free trial periods, so it is possible to get first-hand experience with these tools. Managers can even try leading virtual meetings with different video conferencing options, and soliciting the opinions of the team regarding which one meets their needs.
Set Up Your Space
When you’re preparing for a virtual meeting / video conference, take the time to organize the space you will be communicating from. Having a dedicated home office is great, but is not a realistic option for many of us. Even without a separate home office, it is still a good idea to set up a dedicated workspace in your home. Even if it’s just a simple table and chair, it helps us get in the right headspace for work. Clean up and organize your workspace before a video conference, as this will remove distractions and help both yourself and your colleagues focus. For those of us with roommates or family, take a moment to let them know that you will be having a meeting. With limited space, you can also use headphones to avoid disturbing other people.
Clear Your Desktop
It’s very common for visual aids such as graphs, charts and videos to be used during meetings, and this extends to virtual meetings. When video conferencing, this can require one person to share their screen, displaying the visual for every one else to see. A quick online search will reveal plenty of awkward instances of people sharing something unintended. It’s important to remain professional during video conferences, even as we work from home. If you will be sharing your screen, organize your desktop and make sure to place anything you don’t want your colleagues to see in a separate folder. This can help you remain professional and maintain your own privacy.
Make A Test Call
After you have chosen the right virtual meeting and video conferencing program for your team, you should still test it out before every meeting. Even if you have used this program frequently, there can still be technical issues on the day of. Apps can crash and require updates, and it will save everyone time if you take the time to make sure that everything is functioning properly. It can be helpful to make a test call to a colleague, checking for a strong connection and any technical issues. Once you make sure that everything is working correctly, simply invite the rest of the team into the virtual meeting.
Check Your Appearance
One of the benefits of working from home is that the office dress code can be as lax as you would like it to be. Leaving the suits and shoes in the closet and putting on something comfortable to start the work day is a great feeling. When having a virtual meeting/video conference, a certain level of professionalism is still expected. It does not mean that you need to make sure your hair looks perfect and put on a tie, but running a comb through your hair and wearing something that is casual but workplace appropriate is still a good idea. It not only can help you focus your mind on work assignments, but it also shows respect for your colleagues.
Send an Agenda and Schedule
Unproductive and time-wasting meetings are a problem in all offices, and that extends to the virtual office. A 2019 survey found that an average of 71% of professionals in multiple countries report losing valuable time to poorly organized meetings. When working from home or remotely, coordinating meetings requires an extra level of work, and can possibly knock your colleagues out of their individual schedule. To make virtual meetings over video conferencing run as smoothly as possible, plan an agenda and schedule, along with any important prepared notes. Send them to your colleagues before the video conference begins, as this gives them enough time to review. With a clear itinerary, it will be much easier to keep the virtual meeting on track. With notes and materials beforehand, your colleagues will also be able to prepare any important questions instead of trying to think of them on the spot.
Keep It Small
One of the best and simplest ways to have a successful virtual meeting is to limit the number of people involved as much as possible. Research performed at Stanford University indicates that the most productive meetings have between 5-8 participants at the most. Big meetings and gatherings with dozens of employees are much more difficult to coordinate and lead effectively. They can quickly become more like presentations, with one person doing all the talking, versus as valuable discussion about important initiatives and goals. When you keep the meeting to a limited number of people, it ensures that everyone will have the opportunity to speak and bring up any concerns or ideas. If dozens of people try to talk or ask questions at the same time, things can quickly get out of hand with everybody talking over everybody. Not to mention the technical limitations that come with trying to connect with a large number of people at once. There is a far greater likelihood of connection issues, slowdown and lag. Keeping virtual meetings small can at least lessen these issues.
Part of being a good leader is knowing when to be quiet and listen. It is always important to leave time and space in any meeting for your colleagues to talk, and this still applies to virtual meetings. When one of your colleagues is talking, you have to remain an active listener by paying attention to them. This may sound easy, but when you are sitting at your computer with endless distractions only a click away, it can be harder than you think. Remember that you are visible, so if you start searching online or looking around your space, it will immediately be obvious.
When having a virtual meeting, problems are inevitable and most of them will be out of your control. Having people connect from their home or workspaces for a virtual meeting is more complicated than having everyone walk into the same room. If a connection gets dropped, notifications start dinging, the mic drops out just as you get to the important part of your presentation, don’t lose your cool. Take a breath and be patient with your computer, with your colleagues and yourself.
Learning how to lead virtual meetings and video conferences only requires a bit of effort, and the results will help the entire workplace team. By keeping a few simple factors in mind, you will be able have a successful virtual meeting that will leave your colleagues better informed and ready to keep working hard.