With the increasing globalization and advent of advanced technology, working with people across the world is as common as collaborating with a different department in your office now. Statistics of 2005 and 2019 reveal a 140% increase in global remote hirings.
More and more businesses are shifting to online meetings to cut down the costs of traveling and accommodation. The onset of the pandemic, in particular, has skyrocketed the need for online meetings for the sake of social distancing. While business meetings are an indispensable part of every organization, we all know that they can sometimes consume unnecessary time as well. Accurate for virtual meetings, in particular, let’s have a look at the seven best tips for handling online conferences for increased productivity and efficiency.
Choose the right platform
It is essential to choose the right remote meeting tools for your meeting. Picking through the abundance of tech available can be a very hectic task. To figure out the best for your team and yourself, ask yourself the following three questions.
What are the pivotal functions I need for a successful meeting?
The right tool heavily depends on the tasks you need to do during your online meetings. From wanting to have an active conversation to sharing presentations or co-writing a piece of content, there is an abundance of technology available for each. If you would like to present and have engaging conversations, try out a video conference application like Zoom or Skype with screen sharing facilities. While these software are great online meeting tools, they are not the very best when it comes to writing or editing content. For that purpose, you should try Google Docs or something similar.
How many participants do I have?
Choose an application that easily accommodates the number of attendees you expect from different time zones. Last-minute problems can demotivate, distract, and kill the cheers of your crowd. You can also save money on subscriptions by choosing simple applications if you have a one-on-one meeting.
What tools do I need for increased efficiency?
Because of the spread timezones, some of your teammates might not be able to attend. Connectivity issues may also make missing out on some information inevitable. Tools like screen-sharing and recording can help you accommodate such cases and streamline processes by making data accessible at ease. Therefore, when assessing applications for your online meeting, look for the ones that offer additional features.
Prepare your systems in advance
Check your internet connectivity, microphones, cameras, and computer at least 20 minutes before the meeting. If you are looking forward to one where everyone gets to speak, ask your participants to do the same. We recommend restarting your computers and clearing unnecessary tabs before the meeting starts. Check if the links are functional and take note of officially scheduled maintenance of applications before planning your online conference.
Have a meeting moderator
Having a meeting moderator is one of the best tips for handling online meetings. They are essential for a planned and controlled online conference. They keep everyone focused on the topic by taking control of who speaks when. They can also virtually shut cameras of participants in case of distractions. Since there are high chances of internet disconnection during online conferences, having a moderator can help alleviate the problem of the miscommunication caused in particular reference to audio or video quality issues.
Moderators also help conclude the meeting with action items. They identify the action, assign it to an individual, and seek acknowledgment from the participant. It helps prevent the vague and unclear endings of virtual meetings.
Come with a well-defined and clear agenda
A well-defined and clear plan is a prerequisite of a successful online meeting. Not only does it keep your participants on track, but it is also an efficient way of getting done with your conference early.
Instead of spending 15-20 minutes live figuring out what to do, plan the course of the meeting in advance. Articulate a formal plan that addresses the key points, topics of discussion, meeting structure, roles of participants, and the must-haves during the conference. We recommend sharing this formal piece of a document at least 24 hours before the remote virtual meeting.
Have time limits
Setting time limits can significantly boost the productivity of online meetings. Studies and surveys reveal that employees were able to extract a lot more value in capped timings. Capping time leaves little to no room for unnecessary conversations and distractions. The conference stays focused on the cause and ends faster without consuming extra time. Therefore, instead of having a two-hour meeting in a go, we recommend having 30-minute meetings breaks after a break to freshen the minds of your team to grasp more.
Share the dos and off-limits with participants in advance
It is incredibly important to share the guidelines with your participants in advance. While there is a unanimous code of conduct that every participant must abide by for meetings, some meetings may have additional or different rules. Share these guidelines with the participants beforehand to avoid unnecessary distractions and drama.
Some of the common dos and off-limits we recommend as a must-have for a productive online meeting are:
- Call for introductions and let everyone contribute
- Do not let anyone interrupt others
- Prohibit the personal use of phones during presentations
- Check your systems beforehand and inform us in case of technical difficulties.
- Read the formal agenda and guidelines
- Avoid multitasking during meetings
- Put your electronic gadgets and devices on silent
- Do not display items that may cause distractions
Bring some fun to the table
From choosing the right tools and sharing formal agendas to hiring moderators and sharing the etiquettes, all that we have covered is essential for a productive online meeting. However, everything goes down the drain if your participants are not engaged at all.
Here are some tips and tricks to keep all your teammates engaged from start to end.
Call for Introductions
For an instant ice breaker, ask everyone in the virtual meeting room to introduce themselves. It helps ease down the strange silence which surrounds and sets a tone of contribution for everyone. In some cases, it may also help boost the confidence of some teammates and alleviate their anxiety regarding the online conference.
Have Some Fun Brain Teasers
Before getting into the formal meeting addressed on the schedule, introduce team-building exercises. Such exercises help break the ice and instantly make everyone comfortable and lively as well. Some of the examples you could do are contesting your teammates on blocks of legos or try a fun-filled interactive quiz.
Play a Game: Yes, you heard us right
Games can help the members bond and feel comfortable during the course. We recommend choosing games that do not heavily distract the participants. If you want to break the ice effectively, there is no better way than to play a game before the meeting starts.
Make It Casual & Professional
While this is a given, speak in a language everyone understands. Make sure your delivery is casual and normal-paced. Keep a question and answer session for better clarity of everyone. Include introverts by addressing them politely for any questions.
Assign a task to everyone
To keep everyone engaged during the formal conversation, assign everyone roles to keep them active. Keep a log of these and conduct follow-up meetings.
Having online meetings with people from across the world can be hard to manage. However, when done right with the right remote conference tools, online conferences can be a real game-changer. They can be time-saving, cost-effective, and productive when done right. The best part is that productive online meetings can help you connect with the world right from the comfort of your home or office.
Guide created by The Academy Piano & Voice