The way we work has changed drastically over the last two years. The spread of coronavirus has made us confined to our homes, and it has become necessary for companies to hold virtual meetings to keep the team motivated and unified.
With the work-from-home culture on the rise, virtual meetings have become an integral part of our lives. The immense popularity of virtual meetings makes it evident that they are likely to stay with us for a long time to come. There is no doubt that virtual meetings come with their challenges, but there are a few ways to help make your virtual meetings more productive.
7 Steps to make your virtual meeting more productive
Below are the seven steps that you should follow to boost the productivity and effectiveness of your meeting.
Know your meeting agenda
Before you conduct your virtual meeting, you should first determine the goals and objectives of your meeting. Create a list of agendas that you want to address in the meeting. Knowing the agenda of the meeting will help you invite only the relevant people to the meeting, avoiding unnecessary crowding. You can also schedule the meeting using a pre-meeting scheduler, making it easy to inform the participants well before the actual meeting. The participants can also confirm whether they will be attending the meeting or not. Share the meeting agenda with the team well before the actual meetup to give them some time to get prepared for the meeting.
Choose the right virtual event platform
There are various tools to conduct virtual meetings. Once you have outlined the goals of your virtual meet, it is time to match them with the features provided by the virtual meeting platform and select the most suitable one. For example, in the case of a virtual AGM, you will need features like live chat, 1:1 networking, audio and video calls, and business card exchange.
Also, look for virtual meeting platforms like Dreamcast that facilitate the integration of third-party apps like Zoom, Google Meet, BlueJeans, etc. You can also look for features like AI matchmaking, Special CXO lounges, networking tables.
Start with an ice-breaking activity
Virtual meetings can get boring if you do not have the right skills to engage the participants. For example, if the participants do not know each other and are meeting for the first time, you should have ice-breaking skills to make participants feel comfortable. Ice-breaking sessions or mid-session engagement tactics could include activities to help people know about each other, asking open-ended questions, or conducting polls to find out their views to boost engagement. Also, get comfortable with the virtual meeting technology.
Divide your meeting into small segments
To ensure a hassle-free and smooth virtual meeting, you should plan the meeting well in advance to avoid technical hassles. Make sure the host joins the meeting 5 minutes before the attendees to ensure a smooth process. The process of joining the meeting should be shared with the participants before the meeting to make it easier for them to join. In the case of long-duration meetings, you can divide it into smaller segments of 15-20 minutes to help keep the engagement and attention levels high throughout the meeting. Take the schedule of the participants and the time zones into consideration before scheduling the meeting. In case of a large number of attendees, you can set up separate networking tables.
Set Ground rules for your meeting
Sometimes, people may behave differently in virtual meetings as opposed to in-person meetings. To avoid this, make sure you set some ground rules for the meeting to ensure that everyone behaves in the desired manner.
The ground rules could include the following –
- You can ask the participants to join 5 minutes early to ensure that all the technical issues get resolved before the meeting.
- You can ask the participants to keep their mic mute throughout the meeting and switch it on only when they speak.
- It could include a mandatory video-on policy to boost engagement and make the discussion or conversation more effective.
- In the case of audio calls, you can ask the attendees to introduce themselves at the beginning of the call.
- You may ask the participants to check that there is no background noise or other distractions.
Work on your communication skills
Unlike in-person meetings, virtual meetings do not consider the body language or facial expressions of the participants. If it is an audio-only call, this becomes especially relevant. It is necessary to focus on the speaker, be an active listener, and follow up with a question or a summary to ensure engagement. It will also help you guide the meeting discussion in the right direction and stay on track. If your virtual meeting is a combination of a virtual and an in-person meeting, make sure you accommodate those present virtually within the discussion.
Promote Attendee Engagement
Ask more questions throughout the meeting to keep the participants engaged. As soon as a participant finishes speaking, throw an open-ended question asking for their views and suggestions. You can also conduct mid-meeting polls and ask the participants to ask questions to take the discussion forward. Make sure you address people individually, and the meeting is not dominated by a few people, as this would make the introverted participants feel left out. Try to address people by their names to avoid confusion and get your message across. Make sure the participants speak one by one to avoid confusion and mixing of sounds. You can look for a virtual meeting platform like Dreamcast, that provides emoticons, gaming options, and leaderboards to boost stakeholder engagement.
Since virtual meetings are here to stay, it has become necessary to improve their productivity and effectiveness. Next time you organize a virtual meeting, make sure you follow the steps mentioned in this article to have a pleasant experience and ensure a smooth and productive meet.