With 2020 being the year that it was – the less said the better – working remotely has suddenly become mainstream.
There has been a steep learning curve from office to the online workspace and online meetings play a vital role to ensure teams feel connected.
We have all seen videos where children, pets and the environment have become a hilarious sideshow much to the horror of the participant, but how do you ensure your meeting runs smoothly?
As remote working increases as well as conventional businesses opting to use online meetings more, here’s our Admin Army’s tried and tested top tips that can be implemented immediately.
Like any meeting, you must set an agenda – be clear, concise and communicate it to your team at least 24 hours prior. Ask for feedback and ensure that participants have time to submit their own questions or tasks to add to the agenda. Zoom is a great conferencing tool, becoming a global phenomenon in 2020. It’s easy to use features have allowed even the most tech-phobic access to the online community. When planning meetings, a standout feature allows you to request acknowledgement from participants. To ensure attendance, you can also set automated meeting reminders using Google Calendar.
Prepare your space
Making sure that your conference system is working correctly is just as important as the space in which you are sitting. Author Rick Maurer advises users to remove distractions. “The advantage of virtual meetings is the ability to hold them almost anywhere; the disadvantage of virtual meetings is also the ability to hold them almost anywhere.” Check the background behind you is consciously curated – if you’re still unsure, use Zoom’s background feature. Be aware of lighting and sound – audio feedback is surprisingly common so wear headphones if it’s noisy nearby. Also remember… you’re on video, keep eye contact and dress appropriately! According to research striped shirts don’t transmit well on camera, nor does large, shiny jewellery. Both can be visually distracting as are body movements, so keep gestures slow and natural.
Don’t let them snooze – create engagement
Let’s face it meetings can be tiresome at the best of times and sitting alone and talking to a screen doesn’t always elicit the liveliest dialogue. At Admin Army we send an icebreaker question with each meeting agenda, something non-work related – i.e., what’s your favourite TV show and why. It ensures early participation from each team member as answers are given in a round-robin session at the start of the meeting. Not only does this help develop confidence for those not used to online conferences but also allows us to get to know our remote colleagues better… It also gives us a chance to detect any technical issues with participants systems before we move onto the formal agenda. We also set a meeting facilitator, who controls the proceedings and keeps the team on topic. This is particularly important as miscommunication can occur if there are internet delays.
Slow things down…
Internet speed differs from place to place so ensure your meeting moderator slows down the conversation pace so no one misses a point. You can nominate speakers, pause after questions have been raised and delay responses by 2-3 seconds to ensure adequate time is given for systems to communicate.
Create clear action items
It’s easy to get off topic – use your agenda and stick with it! Your moderator should be taking notes. A great feature of Zoom is the ability to record your meeting and send it to participants afterwards. Stay on topic and make sure to extract a clear list of actionable items, assigning them to specific participants and agreeing on deadlines.
Share your outcomes
Post-meeting notes should be sent out to all participants listing action items and follow-ups with a request for acknowledgement of receipt and confirmation of their understanding.
The online meeting is an office tool here to stay. The goals of achieving a highly productive meeting are no different than an in-person meeting and can be achieved by careful planning, moderator management and ensuring collaborative participation.
If you are looking to expand your remote working environment and not sure where to start, get in touch with the team at Admin Army. Our team of virtual assistants can help you. We have a number of service packages, including office administration that can be tailored to suit your unique requirements.