These days, virtual meetings are the norm, not the exception. From advisory board meetings and focus groups to depositions and conferences, meetings that typically took place in one physical location are now being held with attendees located all over town, the country or the world.
Whatever the format or virtual platform, it’s important to make sure your remote meeting runs smoothly. Here are five best practices that will help you get the most out of your virtual meetings.
1. Know how to work the platform
How often have you had to cut a meeting short because it wasn’t set up properly, or because of technical glitches? Before starting your meeting, make sure the host and other meeting planners know how to use the platform you have chosen.
Learn about the different features and functions of the platform. Test the video and audio settings, and make sure your internet connection is secure. Do a test run before the meeting so you know how to resolve potential issues before they arise and potentially derail your event.
2. Record the meeting
People are more likely to forget what is said during a virtual meeting. In fact, the longer the meeting, the less information they retain. By recording your meeting, you give attendees a chance to recall more of what was covered.
Use the recording feature on your virtual platform to capture the event, and then make it available to attendees and non-attendees. This gives them the opportunity to return to it when, for example, they need to recall a specific exchange or speech.
Some people may prefer referencing text rather than video – for this group, create a transcript or a detailed summary. Both formats create an archive of the meeting, which increases its long-term value.
3. Engage your audience
Studies have shown that our attention spans are shorter in virtual meetings – your participants may start tuning out as soon as 10 minutes into your call. They may also start multitasking during the meeting, which means your speakers are competing with mobile devices and email. That’s why it’s so important to constantly command participants’ attention.
Ask attendees to wait until after the meeting to check emails and texts. To ensure they don’t, regularly call on them to offer ideas and comments. If they know they could be called upon to participate, they’ll know they need to be “present” for the whole meeting, which will make them less likely to give in to nearby distractions.
4. Make sure participants understand each other
Just as engagement and retention may decrease in virtual meetings, so might comprehension. The social cues you get in person might be lost in a virtual meeting. A speaker’s message may go unheard if other voices or background noises drown out the speaker. Someone who isn’t fluent in the language may struggle to understand what’s being discussed.
Ensure all speakers are communicating effectively and all listeners can hear. Ask participants to join via video so others can pick up social cues that audio can’t convey. Ask everyone to join in from a quiet area, and ask non-speakers to mute their microphones when someone else is talking. If participants speak two or more languages, book an interpreter so the proceedings are understood by everyone.
5. Create next steps
A meeting that doesn’t wrap up with a plan for what to do next has less of an impact than one that does. Virtual meetings are no exception. An action plan or next steps keep momentum going and help attendees focus on what to do once the meeting is over.
At the end of the meeting, provide a quick recap with a set of key takeaways and action items for participants. Increase the chance of follow-up by preparing a document that outlines these items and distribute it to attendees.
Virtual meetings are now the standard format for collaboration. Getting the most out of them requires setting them up properly before they even start. Follow the tips listed above and you can be sure your virtual meetings are as fruitful and productive as if you’d met in person.
If you need assistance with your next virtual meeting, Ubiqus is here! Our experienced project teams will guide you through set-up, facilitation and communication with reliable equipment and services. Click here to learn more.
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