Even before the pandemic, meetings never had the best reputation. All too often, they were regarded as a waste of time. We all remember meetings that went nowhere. Where there was no goal, and so nothing was achieved. Meetings purely for the sake of meetings.
In the new virtual world, such tendencies are exaggerated. Devoid of regular social interaction, a virtual meeting can go one of two ways. Either people say nothing at all, or a few speak over everyone else.
Yet, with a major revolution occurring in business communication, we finally have a chance to do something different. So, how can we make our virtual meetings better?
The Power of The Agenda
An agenda is a powerful thing. It is a plan of action. There’s a reason why the scout’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’. The more planning you do ahead of time, the better you will be to deal with any eventualities than come your way.
The alternative is a meeting without a purpose. Aimless and listless, participants are often underprepared and the meeting underutilised. Instead, draft a list of goals to be accomplished in the discussion. Next, work out the significant points that need to be discussed to solve these goals.
One tip is the ‘ten-minute rule’. Assign each significant point on the list ten-minutes. In this time, you need to discuss the topic, brainstorm solutions, and decide on a plan of action. The set time focuses the mind and drives the conversation towards a conclusion.
Additionally, set people tasks to complete before the meeting. If they’ve done work beforehand, people will be more willing to engage; thereby promoting engagement through the team.
Assign a Chair or Facilitator
In a virtual meeting, some people are overshadowed by others: whether by choice or by the power of personality. They may choose to sit back and let others do the leg-work. Such behaviour is unfair and doesn’t promote collaboration. Teamwork requires everyone.
Furthermore, discussions need to be kept on track, following the outline of the agenda. As such, select a person to chair the meeting. They are there to guide participants through the agenda, call out inappropriate behaviour, and ensure everyone is participating. The latter point can involve directing questions at attendees who haven’t said very much.
Use The Toolkit
Most video conferencing apps, from Zoom to Microsoft Teams, come with a whole range of tools. Here are some of the best ones available:
are the digital age’s answer to the blackboard. With hundreds of colours and a multitude of pens, you can draw or write anything you want. This bit of kit is perfect for sketching your way through an idea or concept. You can also use it for diagrams and charts, or a brainstorming session with a group. Plus, if you need an icebreaker, consider having a quick game of Hangman or Pictionary.
is the equivalent of a projector but with much more versatility. At its simplest, you can share your PowerPoint presentation with the group. However, the only limit is your imagination. If you’ve got a fancy bit of software you want to show off to the client, then screen sharing is ideal. Or you can use it to show a YouTube video on an important topic. Anything you can get up on your monitor can be shared with your attendees.
can help disguise a messy home or less than an ideal backdrop. In their place, you can have a stunning natural vista or swanky home office, using the power of green screen technology. When collaborating using Hello Backgrounds’ zoom virtual background, you’ll always display a professional image. One top tip is to use the same background when hosting a meeting with a client. It will provide a sense of continuity and professionalism.
Record The Meeting.
Previously, if you missed a meeting, you couldn’t revisit it. It was done. The best you could hope for was a breakdown from a colleague or the meeting minutes. But neither is a replacement for the real thing. Thankfully, we can now record all our meetings. So, you need never miss a meeting again.
Plus, it serves as a record for future reference. Or if you are hosting a training seminar, the recording can be used again and again for new starters.
Next time you’re planning a virtual meeting, remember these handy tips. Virtual meetings don’t have to be monotonous or dull. We can do something different. So, be bold and imaginative. Create a meeting people won’t forget.