According to getvoip, Virtual meetings have grown incredibly over the last few years. Virtual meetings, as the name suggests are the act of meeting to discuss various issues like in a face-to-face meeting but without being located in the same environment.
To further help you make your meetings more interactive, let these tips guide you. You'll benefit most if it’s in your position to arrange a meeting or it’s your responsibility to see to its smooth running.
Tips for Interactive Virtual Meetings
- Define your goals
Virtual meetings should have an agenda so that your team can have enough time to think about the subject matter of the meetings. The meeting will then follow a particular order, especially when rules communicated to all participants must have been set in place.
Having said that, don’t make your virtual meetings too formal, so it doesn’t become boring, ‘balance’ is what’s needed here.
The rules shouldn’t be too strict like ‘no1 is allowed to ask questions until the moderator calls for ‘any other businesses. If this is the case, then you may suddenly hear one of your participants snoring, as questions asked, albeit orderly makes virtual meetings more interactive and interesting. Participants tend to remember banter of words that may ensue during the meeting more than a normal set schedule.
- Eliminate the possibility of any Technical Snag
If a virtual meeting holds and there are technical issues every now and then, there is no worst turn-off than that. Anything that breaks the communication flow must be prevented at all cost as this will disrupt the flow and enthusiasm among the participants.
One way to be proactive is to do a test on all devices that will be used during the meeting. It is most upsetting when, during a conversation, the audio screeches or the microphone goes off and you are left to find out the cause. That would have eaten into the time set for the meeting, thereby causing participants to lose their focus and attention.
- Moderate the meeting atmosphere in a composed but cordial manner
Let there be times when everyone is free to discuss and ask questions. For example, where a meeting is getting tensed up, you may throw in a football comment, “oh, who saw the football match on Saturday?” Yes, it’s totally unrelated to the meeting at hand but it’s also a way of loosening things up, a key strategy to keeping participants well roomed in.
You can go further by calling specific names to answer non-official questions as well as official ones. Throw one or two silly jokes that will not be offensive and this way you get the atmosphere less tense and everyone is happy to go on.
- Video is important
What’s more interesting than seeing the facial expressions and body language of all participants? As much as audio-only meetings are the foundation of most virtual meetings, you should incorporate video features so that participants become more real with regard to their output and give optimum concentration to the meeting.
Think about your key team member cleaning the desk while the meeting is on simply because ‘no one sees me’, such a team member would just be about 50% focused on the meeting and they may miss vital information. Even more, with video on, participants feel like they are involved in a traditional meeting and would more likely give their best. Here's a list of some of the best tools for video virtual meetings.
- Control participants privileges
You can mute or unmute a participant from your end since you have admin control with you. This way, only the person entitled to speak per time would be able to. So, if ever things are going beyond the plan, you can switch to control mode and help stabilize the meeting.
Where there are adequate tools to moderate virtual meetings, distractions would be at bay, and the meeting would go on smoothly.
- Communicate politely and professionally throughout virtual meetings
It is best to address participants by their names rather than a nickname. Using names make people feel like part of a group and this is necessary for ensuring that you have the right team willing to participate till the meeting knocks off. Where there are more persons with the same name, use a tactic to distinguish them by either calling them with the surname or the location. E.g. Sarah from South America, Sarah from Russia etc.
- Set a poll in motion
At various times during the meeting, the moderator can simply ask everyone, one after the other, what they think of a suggestion. This way, people do not stay mute because they have not been called.
You could also ask for further suggestions from participants so that everyone is braced up to participate actively as no one knows who would be called next. Hence, before a new topic is discussed, everyone should have a chance to put in something from his or her own end.
- Take notes
While virtual meetings persist, note down what was said by whom, action points to be taken after the meeting, assignments given to who and its deadline.
The software you choose should be one where notes taken can be seen by all participants so that if anyone lost a point, he or she can take a quick glance at the note and thereafter make his own.
E-documents such as MS-Word, Excel and PowerPoint can be used, especially where the team leader is miles away and all participants are in a room. These documents will be a listed summary of what is being discussed, which is the main essence of the meeting, thereby keeping participants well-focused.
Factors to Consider in Order to Improve Virtual Meetings
Access: Will all participants gain access to the meeting?
Security: Are there any security issues with regard to important documents?
Utility: Is it the best for the work at hand? When a meeting involves signing documents, a virtual meeting may not do the job like a face-to-face meeting would, so, when needed, meet your team traditionally.
Support: If any technical faults come up, is help available?
Cost: Is it the best way to save cost? If a virtual meeting will not be the best for the job intended, then, the cost used in setting it up would be a waste. However, if that fraction has been put into setting up a face-to-face meeting, then, it would have saved some money. So, analyse the cost.
Summary and Conclusion
In summary, here are some Dos and Don’ts for virtual meetings.
- Speak clearly
- Be cordial with participants
- Keep movement little or not at all
- Maintain eye contact with the camera
- Be yourself
- Don’t distract
- Don’t shout
- Don’t converse with anyone else
- Don’t cover the microphone
It will do so much good to keep these tips hands-on. When you are well equipped with the dos, don’ts, how’s and what’s, you can run your office from any location and get the same result as though you are present with the participants.