Getting the Most From Virtual Meetings

Virtual meeting at home

Many of us have already started to return to the office after spending some time away. With that said, things have changed. We are now used to working with the tools of remote work and we can see the benefits of continuing with some of these practices.  

Teams and Zoom meetings are now a common part of work for many of us. As convenient as they are, they do require some adjustments for them to be as effective as in-person meetings. If you are not careful, these meetings can get off track or it can be difficult to get the important points across. 

Here are a few tips for making remote meetings more effective. 

Manage the Flow of Group Meetings 

A one-on-one meeting is relatively easy to manage. Even when they go off track, it isn’t difficult for two people to get back on the same page. When you have three or more people, it can be a little harder. Try the following to increase productivity in group meetings: 

  • If you are running the meeting, get familiar with the technology and test it out. This will allow you to help others if they have any issues.
  • Set an agenda for the meeting. This will keep things on track and help ensure that no important points are missed.
  • Start with introductions or a simple check-in. If people need to be introduced, make the introductions. If everyone knows each other, just go around the group for a quick check-in to make sure everyone is ready to begin the meeting.
  • Provide the option to post in a chat box. This will give people the ability to comment or question when someone else is talking.
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to speak. If you notice someone has not said anything, ask them if they have anything to add or if they have any questions.

Be Prepared 

A little preparation can go a long way toward having a better meeting. 

  • Join the meeting a few minutes early so you can test your headphones and microphone. 
  • If you plan to present material on screen for other participants, make sure it is easy to access. You might even want to practice switching to screen sharing before the meeting starts. 
  • Prepare notes that cover the key elements of your presentation.  

The Personal Touch 

It is easy for many of the personal elements of communication to get lost in virtual meetings. The following tips can make it easier to connect with others at a virtual meeting: 

  • Slow your speech down and make sure to pronounce your words clearly. 
  • Maintain eye contact with the camera. It might feel more natural to look at the screen, but you want others to feel like you are looking at them and paying attention. 
  • Pay more attention to the cues of natural conversation. It isn’t as easy to pick up on the natural cues of a conversation when you are in a virtual meeting. Try to be a little more attentive as it concerns cues that may indicate when a person expects you to speak or listen. 
  • Don’t be too rigid. Try to make it an enjoyable experience for yourself and for other people at the meeting. 

Maintain a Professional Appearance 

Whether it is a manager, other team members or a client, you want to look professional. Just because you are at home, don’t think it is any different than inviting someone into your office. 

  • Dress as if you were meeting someone in person. Wear the types of clothes you would wear to any meeting. 
  • Make sure your background is appropriate. Are there any items you would not want people from work or clients to see? You might even want to consider using a virtual background to avoid any issues. 
  • Make sure your camera is set at eye level and check your lighting before the meeting. 
  • Try not to move around too much. Excessive movement may distract from what you are saying. 
  • Some people have a tendency to get a little stiff when they are in virtual meetings. Try to relax and be natural. 

Expect the Unexpected 

Even if you are lucky enough to have our own home office, there is always the potential for something unexpected to happen. Maybe a child wanders into the room or maybe a technical issue throws things off for a minute or two. You need to be prepared for these situations. 

  • Stay calm and try to get the meeting back on track. 
  • If you have reason to believe there might be an issue, try to let people know ahead of time. 
  • Other people may have technical challenges as well. Try to be understanding. 

Online meetings are now an expected part of work and business. They might not always run perfectly, but there is a lot you can do to make sure your Teams meetings are more productive. You will also get better at handling virtual meetings as you gain experience with the technology.