In the wake of COVID-19, virtual meetings and conferences have become indispensable to many business operations.
Companies in every industry are dependent on them to collaborate with team members, keep projects moving forward, and communicate with clients. While nothing can fully replace in-person meetings, taking the right approach to your virtual sessions can ensure a successful outcome every time.
In this article, we’ve compiled our best advice for hosting great online business meetings.
Spend time preparing in advance.
Carve out some extra time in your schedule to prepare for the meeting itself and for any technical challenges that may occur. Make sure that you’re completely comfortable with the virtual meeting software. Rehearse using its tools and facilities beforehand so that you can operate them effortlessly during the session.
A major advantage of virtual meetings is the ability to hold them almost anywhere. As it turns out, that’s one of their biggest drawbacks too. Online meeting attendees can join from the airport lounge, a house full of toddlers, or any number of other noisy locations. To minimize disruptive background noise, you can opt to mute attendees and take questions via the chat box instead. Don’t forget to consider visual distractions, too. Large, shiny jewelry and clothing with bold patterns (think vivid stripes and loud florals) can be visually off-putting during video conferences.
Mind your etiquette.
An important key to a hosting a successful virtual phone conference is to remember that you are in a meeting. That means being courteous and giving your full attention to the participants as if you were together in the same room. Don’t get distracted by your e-mail, texts or have external conversations. In other words, if it’s not acceptable in a face-to-face meeting, it shouldn’t be acceptable in a virtual meeting. However, you do need to be flexible. In this age of COVID-19 and with work at home the norm, the etiquette rules justify being bent. Recognize that it may be impossible for you and those on your calls to be free of all outside distractions.
Don’t try to cover too much.
The only thing worse than a long, boring presentation in person is a long, boring virtual presentation. Extended online sessions are particularly challenging for participants to maintain their focus and not lose interest. Short and efficient is the recipe for success in the virtual meeting world. It’s best to try to keep them to 90 minutes or less, ideally between 15 to 45 minutes. If you can’t cover all that you need to in that time, consider breaking the meeting up into two separate sessions. Or, include a 15-minute break to allow attendees to stretch, respond to emails or refill their coffee.
In virtual settings, there’s a tendency to forego interpersonal relationship efforts and launch right into the material at hand. However, just as everyone is greeted as they join an in-person meeting, the same should apply in a virtual environment. Simply saying hello and acknowledging each participant by name will do wonders to enhance collaboration and the overall success of your meeting. If there are attendees who don’t know one another, brief introductions are essential to get the session started off properly.
Get everyone involved.
Like in-person gatherings, virtual meetings can easily be dominated by those with outgoing personalities. Every participant should have a voice and as the host, it’s your responsibility to get everyone involved. Seek out quieter, more reserved team members for their input. For example, you could request updates on their projects, challenges, successes, etc. or ask if they have anything to add to viewpoints that have already been shared by others.
Embrace the nuances of virtual business meetings to make them exceptional.
While online meetings share similarities to their face-to-face counterparts, it’s important to be aware of their differences and adapt to them. By following the principles outlined in this article, you can ensure that your online sessions will be their most productive and successful.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.