Think teams have to be in the same physical space in order for a meeting to be productive? I think it’s safe to say that 2020 taught us otherwise. Virtual meetings allow teams working remotely to come together and share ideas, collaborate, and brainstorm the same way they would in person…but from anywhere.
So how can we make these gatherings as effective and productive as possible? In this article, we’ll cover some basic best practices for virtual meetings and look at some remote meeting software options organizations should consider as well.
What is a virtual meeting?
By definition, a virtual meeting is a meeting that’s conducted online using audio and/or video to connect people who are working from different places. Also known as a remote meeting, these allow individuals and teams to collaborate, share, and communicate in real-time regardless of where they’re located, thus allowing for greater flexibility for everyone involved.
Virtual meetings include gatherings like virtual board meetings or remote team meetings–which can be highly productive and engaging for a number of participants. HBR reported that when 200 people were studied comparing attendance of a face-to-face meeting with a virtual one, 86% of participants reported as high or higher levels of engagement in virtual meetings as in face-to-face meetings when best practices were followed.
What are some virtual meeting best practices?
Virtual meetings can often be productivity drainers when they are abused. Here at monday.com, we’ve established some clear ground rules for when (and when not) to videoconference.
Speaking of best practices: here are a few to keep in mind around your virtual meetings.
1. Establish a clear objective
Rule number one of any productive meeting is that it has a clear purpose. Make sure everyone in attendance at your virtual meeting knows what the objective is before the meeting starts, and understands what needs to be addressed and accomplished during your time together.
2. Have an agenda
To keep your virtual meeting on track, you need an agenda. Without a roadmap for the conversation, your attendees might get sidetracked–which can make your meeting last longer and can lead to objectives not being met. Keep everyone working toward the objectives with action items and topics that must be covered before the virtual meeting wraps up.
3. Assign roles and responsibilities for attendees
A simple way to keep your virtual meeting attendees engaged is to give each person a role as well as responsibilities that goes with their title. One person might be the note-taker, one person might be tasked with a brainstorm for the next session, another might be a report-generator. Give each person a job so they’re more inclined to stay involved and to participate in the conversation.
4. Keep it short and sweet
As with any meeting, it’s easy to get carried away and have an efficient 30-minute virtual meeting turn into a three-hour meandering catch-up session. Put a hard stop time on your meeting and put a time limit on each person when they need to share updates to keep everyone on-task.
5. Turn your meetings into action
Once your meeting is done, make sure that every team members know the next steps by making meeting notes or action items available to all attendees for follow up (Hint: our Zoom integration is awesome for this).
How can I make remote meetings more interactive?
If you’re worried about how you’ll make your remote meeting more interactive (and how you’ll get those quiet few to speak up and participate), try working in a few engaging activities.
- Ice breakers/catch-up session: Give each person three to five minutes at the start of the meeting to answer an icebreaker question or share an update on what they’re working on so everyone is caught up on what their teammates are working on.
- Ask for real-time feedback: Engage your meeting attendees by asking for real-time feedback that’s fast and efficient with things like polls, surveys, group chats, or vote-casting on different questions.
- Call on attendees who haven’t contributed yet: Make note of who hasn’t spoken up during your virtual meeting and make sure to call on them so their voices are heard as part of the group conversation. (Some people just need a little extra nudge!)
Remote meeting software options
To conduct a remote meeting, you’ll need remote meeting software. The right one for you will depend on your needs and team preferences. Here are a few options to consider as you explore and test different tools.
- Zoom: Zoom is a popular remote meeting software with robust features that integrates with monday.com. You can use the free version for up to 100 participants, but more advanced features come with paid plans.
- GoToMeeting: If you want a simple, no-frills solution, GoToMeeting allows for screen sharing and audio/video calling, as well as additional features like meeting transcription for up to 150 participants.
- Google Hangouts: If you’re looking for a basic web-based remote meeting tool for a small team, Hangouts might be for you (note: Hangouts are limited to 25 users at a time for work-related video chats.) However, Google Meet, a newer version of this service from Google, offers additional options for larger virtual meetings.
- Skype: Skype requires users to download its software onto a device (like a computer or smartphone), so keep this in mind–your attendees will need to get this set up before your meeting. Skype accommodates up to 50 people for free with both audio and video conferencing on any device.
- Join.me: With simple setup and enabled screen sharing, Join.me offers participants no limit on meeting length and a personalized meeting link for a small fee.
Conduct remote meetings like a pro
Remote meetings can be just as effective and productive as the ones you conduct face-to-face. Make sure you’re following the best practices and test different tools to find one that allows your team to collaborate efficiently no matter where they are (with no extra headaches.) You’ll be running top-notch virtual meetings in no time at all.
Looking for more resources to manage your virtual team? Check out our remote work templates!