If working from home is a part of your usual routine or you have found yourself working from home temporarily, conducting meetings remotely can still be just as effective as being face-to-face. Whether you are a manager or a member of a team, these tips can help your meetings run smoothly while working remote.
Before the Meeting
1. Choose an Online Platform (if one is not provided)
There are dozens of cloud-based services that make remote meetings both functional and collaborative. Choose the service that best suits your team’s size and functionality. Some questions you may want to consider when choosing a platform are:
- Is video chat required?
- Do you need to share screens to present an idea or visual?
- Do attendees need to edit a document in real-time?
These factors will determine what software is best for your team. If a software is already selected, make sure to review all the features that you can utilize. Some platforms that are popular among large businesses are Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Teams, just to name a few.
2. Plan Ahead
When possible, plan your meetings as far ahead of time as business needs will allow.
- Provide an agenda so that attendees have time to prepare talking points that will be discussed during the meeting.
- Planning ahead gives attendees the opportunity to coordinate an appropriate place where distractions are limited.
- Attendees can test the remote meeting software beforehand to fix any technical issues.
3. Rules of the Road
Meetings can become hectic when people talk over one another or conversations stray off topic. Miro suggests creating “rules of the road” to ensure meetings stay on track and prevent chaotic communication. The facilitator of the meeting can create these “rules” or guidelines to limit each person’s speaking time to prevent any one person from dominating the conversation, thus opening the discussion and allowing everyone to provide input.
During the Meeting
4. Introductions and Small Talk
When conducting a meeting of various parties that do not normally work together, it is important to make sure everyone has introduced themselves, knows each other, and is clear on what their roles are. It is natural to make these introductions and have small talk before jumping straight into a meeting, such as you would in-person.
5. Goals and Assignments
The facilitator of the meeting should have assignments for some of the attendees (i.e., note-taker, timekeeper, etc.). When working with a team that will have continuous meetings, change up the assignments so that everyone shares the team’s administrative responsibilities.
6. Encourage Feedback
It’s never fun when one person is dominating a conversation or sharing only their ideas. The facilitator of the meeting should encourage attendees to contribute their thoughts and ideas. If contributions seem limited, ask your team members thought-provoking questions (i.e., “If you could change anything what would it be?” or “What do you like, or not like, about this plan?”). This helps both the productivity and creativity of a meeting.
After the Meeting
7. Set Action Items and Follow-Ups
Before your meeting comes to a close, always make sure you have action items with due dates for each member of the team. Email these items directly after the meeting to ensure these to-do lists are fresh in everyone’s minds. If needed, set the follow up call/meeting right away and request “accepted responses” from each person so that the facilitator of the meeting knows of everyone’s availability and commitment.
Throughout the entire process of your remote meeting (before, during, and after), it’s important to be both engaging and courteous to your team members. This makes for a positive team environment and will encourage team members’ participation and enthusiasm in their involvement.