Online meetings are becoming more and more common, not least due to a certain global pandemic that is pushing employees around the world to work from home. Suddenly companies are having to figure out how to continue normal business without all being in the same room. When it comes to face-to-face meetings this can be particularly challenging.
Thankfully, companies with distributed workforces have been making the most of online meetings for years now, and luckily for us, they have figured out the top do’s and don’ts of online meetings. Here are a few steps towards getting your virtual workspace to function smoothly.
Like the Boy Scouts always say, make sure you’ve done adequate preparation for your online meeting before they even start. Just because you’re conducting meetings from the comfort from the comfort of your own home, doesn’t mean you can throw out the rulebook, and starting a meeting without knowing where you’re going has never been a good idea.
Shirley Bassetini, an HR representative at Academized and UKWritings, recommends you “Create an agenda that prepares the team for what the meeting will be about and keeps the things moving while you’re in there. When putting together an agenda, ask attendants to contribute to what they would like to discuss, that will make it easier for them to stay engaged.”
Preparing for a meeting also means preparing your makeshift meeting room. Anyone who’s called into a meeting from home has their stories of their personal life invading the work space. My favorites include drinking from a mug that read “There might be gin in this” and the classic kids invade the interview room during a live BBC interview in 2017. The lesson from these examples is to think about where you are, what might distract you and what might show up on your webcam that you’d rather your colleagues not see. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you can’t be professional.
A meeting is only as good as its participants, so it’s important to get involved and encourage others to do the same. This is especially true for online meetings since you lose so much on interpersonal communication by not being in the same room.
In particular, you may find you have to be more descriptive than normal, rather than relying on visual references and the small assurances we take for granted in face-to-face conversations. Another alteration you may have to make is slowing down your conversation. Terrence Howarth, a project manager at Best Writing Services and Australianreviewer, reminds us that “online meetings move quite a bit slower than regular meetings, partly because of connection issues. Even on the most reliable of internet connections, there’s likely to be a bit of delay between speaking and hearing, so take that into account when you’re delivering a point. This also makes interrupting more difficult (which is probably a good thing), so figure out a system where you let everyone know you have something to say; a raised hand works great.”
Though they’re actually slower, online meetings can feel a lot faster because you’re distracted by the technology and navigating the new way of talking. That’s why taking detailed and frequent notes is always a good idea so that you can refer back after the meeting is over.
Regroup and recap
Speaking of which, part of the process of a good online meeting is what you do after the call has ended. In a real office, there is a winding down period after a meeting is ended where attendants can discuss and share notes, and afterward, you’re usually still all in the same office so clarifying points or recapping discussions is easy and natural. In an online meeting you don’t have this luxury, so it’s important to build this recapping and regrouping into your process.
Immediately after the end of the call send a recap of the key discussion points and main responsibilities of each attendant. This helps the information stick in your head and gives you a visual reference point to look back to. Later, meeting minutes might come in especially handy, so try to make them detailed and person-specific.
Debriefing with your colleagues is still important, but try to avoid doing it in the chat room or in the main meeting email thread; someone might end up hearing something they wish they didn’t. This is also the time to share those notes you were taking, and ask others for theirs in case you missed anything.
Working from home can be an interesting challenge, but online meetings don’t have to be difficult. If you make sure you’re adequately prepared beforehand, take part actively during them, and respond well afterward, they can be an invaluable way to keep communication flowing throughout your company and across your various remote locations.
Beatrix Potter is an online HR manager at Custom Essay and Do my assignment for me writing services. Beatrix enjoys writing about leadership and project management and is keenly interested in the way we run meetings. She also is an online tutor at Finance Writing Service website.