Any meeting, be it virtual or in-person needs upfront preparation. Virtual meetings are easier compared to in-person meetings since that spare you from the search for available meeting rooms and related logistics.
However, virtual meetings can backfire if they are not organized properly. With the pandemic raging all around the world, companies mandating work from home, there has been a massive spurt in virtual meetings.
Zoom, the go-to tool for virtual meetings has seen a sudden spurt in inactive users and also revenue.
It is not just Zoom that is leading the virtual meeting bandwagon. Even Google with Google Meet, Microsoft with Microsoft Teams, and several other players have entered the virtual meeting space to capture the ripe market.
With physical meetings ruled out, video chat turned out to be the only option for businesses to keep their operations smoothly. The fact these virtual meetings reduce carbon footprint and also offer great versatility to make them business favorites. They are also extremely flexible since the meeting link can be attached to individual calendars for quick access and participation.
Like mentioned at the beginning of this blog, upfront preparation is essential to have a productive meeting. Here are some pointers that will help you prepare and conduct it the right way.
The Secrets Sauce to Conducting Productive Virtual Meetings
Like a well-cooked dish, a productive meeting also needs the right mix ingredients. Here are some of them that make up the secret sauce to productive virtual meetings.
Invite the right people
This might seem like a no-brainer. But, inviting the wrong people who have little or nothing to do with the meeting can be a hindrance to the meeting. For the uninitiated folks, the host will have to provide proper contextual information and updates so that they say on track of the meeting. If the meeting is not relevant to them, it results in a waste of time for all the parties involved. So, invite only the most relevant people to the meeting.
In fact, one can apply the Jeff Bezos rule to virtual meetings.
For virtual meetings, have only a participant count that can easily be fed with two pizzas or less. Of course, this does not apply to all-hands meetings, seminars, webinars, and similar large-sized one-way meetings.
Set the agenda as elaborately as possible
A virtual meeting is easy to organize, join, and also leave. Nevertheless, it is necessary to give the participants a heads-up of what is going to be discussed during the meeting. Setting the agenda as early as possible will help the participants prepare for the meeting. This gives them enough room to come prepared with any data, reports, or other information that can maximize the meeting’s productivity.
While creating the meeting invite, make sure to include the agenda of the meeting as a bullet list or as a short para. Most calendar tools like Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Calendly offer this facility.
Be mindful of time zones
A virtual team cuts across geographical barriers and time zones. It will have team members belonging to diverse time zones. Quite often, the time zones will be so drastic that it will be noon one team member when it is noon for another.
While organizing a meeting that requires the attendance of folks from all times, great care must be taken to ensure that everybody can join the meeting without stretching their day too long or by sacrificing their sleep. If arriving at an ideal time seems difficult, run a poll to arrive at a timing that everyone agrees on.
Add a co-host
A co-host is someone who has te access as a host o admit meeting participants, mute or unmute participants, share screens, record meetings or perform similar activities. These are activities that otherwise, only the host can do.
Why do you need a co-host? In a worst-case scenario like the internet connection failing or an unexpected power failure or audio issues, the co-host can take control of the meeting and ensure its smooth happening.
Adding a co-host can be a lifesaver if you are hosting a meeting with a customer who wants a demo or is looking to solve a problem that they are encountering. This can even help you maximize customer engagement in a time when face-to-face interactions are almost impossible.
Mute participants on entry by default
Background noise is a huge hindrance. Unknown to many participants, their background creates a huge clamor that can dampen the entire ambiance of the virtual meeting. It can even derail the focus on the speaker and those who are actively listening to him/her.
As a host, you can always enable the setting to mute participants on entry. This will ensure that even if participants forget to mute themselves, their background noise does not create trouble for the other participants.
If you are truly a netizen and one who uses it extensively for work, you must master the art of running productive virtual meetings. After all, nobody knows for real when things will get back to the stage when in-person meetings are possible.
To make a virtual meeting work, you have to take care of several tiny things that make a huge difference. Right from inviting the right folks to choosing the right time, you must pay attention to detail. Also, you must select the right video conferencing or video chat tool that does not cause latency or glitches during the meeting.